After three months of persistent boycotts, Mozambique's largest opposition party Renamo returned to dialogue with the government on 27 January.
For the first since October, Renamo sent a delegation led by senior parliamentary deputy Saimone Macuiana to a meeting with the government at Maputo's Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre.
It was Renamo, back in April 2013, which requested the dialogue, but in October broke off the talks threatening that it would not return until the government accepted the presence at the table of national and international mediators and observers.
The head of the government delegation, Transport Minister Gabriel Muthisse, told reporters that the spirit of both sides was "positive", and they had reached an understanding on "essential questions" concerning the participation of "third parties" in the dialogue.
Muthisse said he had the impression that Renamo had rejoined the dialogue in a positive spirit. "In the coming sessions we shall try to consolidate this spirit", he added, "so that it has a positive impact on the life of our people".
"The most important thing is the participation of third parties, of observers", Muthisse stressed. "The two parties will sit down to define the criteria for the participation of these third parties. I think that our perspective, and I believe also that of Renamo, is not to see who has won and who has lost. Our expectation is that all Mozambicans will gain from this debate. Our focus is that Mozambicans should win so that they can produce and live in a climate of peace".
At a meeting on 1 February the government and Renamo held a further meeting and agreed on the names of five Mozambicans who will act as observers during the dialogue.
The names of the observers were not revealed. However, two of the names are already known - they are Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane and the Vice-Chancellor of the Polytechnic University, Lourenco do Rosario, who have already been carrying messages between President Armando Guebuza and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
Saimone Macuiana told reporters, "during the talks the two sides decided that space is open for Mozambican citizens and institutions who want to contribute to the success of the negotiations between Renamo and the Government".
Voter registration delayed
Following the resumption of talks, the government postponed this year's voter registration by a fortnight, in order to facilitate participation by Renamo.
Registration was to have begun on 30 January, lasting 75 days. But at an extraordinary session on 29 January the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) decreed a delay with registration now running from 15 February until 29 April.
The Council of Ministers stated the delay was at the express request of Renamo "in the context of the dialogue under way between the government and Renamo so that this party may better prepare itself to participate in the 2014 presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections".
The government "in the framework of promoting the spirit of peace, reconciliation, national unity and multi-party democracy agreed with the Renamo request".