Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza has invited Afonso Dhlakama, the leader of the country's main opposition party, Renamo, for a face to face meeting in Maputo on Friday, in an attempt to overcome the current political tensions.
A statement from Guebuza's office said that the invitation is part of the "continual efforts of the government to preserve peace.
It stressed that Guebuza is "permanently willing to enter into dialogue", and so invited Dhlakama to Maputo "to discuss the concerns which worry Renamo".
Guebuza's spokesperson, Edson Macuacua, told reporters that the invitation was conveyed to Dhlakama "through the usual channels", and that these channels had never been interrupted.
But Dhlakama has not been seen in public since the Mozambican armed forces occupied the Renamo headquarters at Satunjira, in the central district of Gorongosa, on 21 October. He, and other senior Renamo figures, are believed to have fled towards the Gorongosa mountain range.
The Renamo parliamentary group last week admitted that it does not know where Dhlakama is.
AIM's attempts to contact the Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, to see if Guebuza's invitation had indeed reached Dhlakama were in vain. Mazanga's mobile phone just gave a message from the phone company that his number "is temporarily out of service".
There have been widespread calls for a face to face meeting between the two leaders as the only way to halt the current clashes in central Mozambique, and return the country to peace. But this all depends on finding Dhlakama and bringing him to Maputo.
Prior to the fall of Satunjira, Dhlakama repeatedly declared that, although he wanted to meet Guebuza, he was not prepared to travel to Maputo. His argument was that, if he left Satunjira, the government forces would use his absence as an excuse to overrun the base. Now that Satunjira has fallen, that argument can no longer be used.