Maputo - Mozambique's government has accepted a demand by the opposition Renamo for foreign observers to monitor talks aimed at ending clashes that have destabilised the country, local media reported Tuesday.
Government negotiators agreed to calling in international mediators during negotiations late Monday as fresh skirmishes between government and guerrilla forces took place in the central Sofala province, according to independent daily O Pais.
“If this comforts Renamo, the government is open to the presence of international observers for the specific process of stopping attacks by Renamo on defenceless citizens and on national defence forces,” chief government negotiator Jose Pacheco told the paper.
The former rebel Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) became the official opposition after a peace treaty in 1992 ended its 16-year civil war against the ruling Mozambique National Front party (Frelimo).
Renamo has long demanded the presence of foreign observers at renewed peace negotiations. Clashes first erupted after Renamo's veteran leader Afonso Dhlakama returned to a onetime civil war bush camp in October 2012.
Renamo's chief negotiator Saimon Macuiane welcomed the government's acceptance of foreign observers.
“It is a positive signal, the government is showing maturity,” he said.
Renamo this week accused government troops of attacking its fighters in two villages close to where Dhlakama is believed to be hiding. It also accused the army of burning down homes in the area.
The government denies the accusations and instead accuses Renamo fighters of attacking its positions.
It was not immediately clear which international observers might be asked to participate.
But in December, Renamo suggested observers be drawn from Botswana, Cape Verde, China, Kenya, Portugal and the United States.
It also wants to see representatives from the main regional and international bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union, the United Nations and European Union present at the talks.
Five national mediators - clerics and academics - are already attending the talks.