Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi will run for re-election in 2019, his ruling Frelimo party said on Monday, a step towards a vote meant to end sporadic clashes.
Nyusi is expected to square off with opposition Renamo party leader Afonso Dhlakama, whose supporters have fought with government forces since a disputed election three years ago.
Both leaders met for the first time since 2015 in August, raising hopes of a resolution to the conflict, whose scale is difficult to gauge because fighting takes place mostly in the remote interior.
Nyusi told delegates at the ruling party’s conference he would continue with efforts for peace Dhlakama, who has been in hiding at the Gorongosa mountains with hundreds of fighters.
“It is an urgent task that belongs to everyone, regardless of political affiliation, religious or social position,” Nyusi said.
Competition over natural resources could be exacerbating unrest: Mozambique is on the verge of developing huge offshore gas reserves which could transform one of the world’s poorest countries into a middle-income state.
Members of the current government and Renamo fought on opposing sides in a civil war from 1975 to 1992 that killed an estimated 1 million people.
Nyusi, 57, an engineer, has been in power since 2014 when he was picked by Frelimo to succeed Armando Guebuza. Frelimo has ruled Mozambique since its independence in 1975.
The former guerrilla commander Dhlakama, 64, has lost every major election to Frelimo since the end of the civil war but topped the vote count in several central and two northern provinces in 2014.
Reporting by Manuel Mucari; Editing by Andrew Heavens