The international team mediating talks taking place in the Joint Commission set up between the Mozambican government and the Renamo rebels has proposed that a truce be declared, but only after the two sides have agreed a series of proposals on decentralization and submitted them to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, for adoption.

The mediators’ proposals were given to the government and Renamo in late October when the fourth round of talks ended. No doubt these proposals will be the first matter to be discussed when talks resume, probably on Thursday. The proposals were published in full in the latest issue of the independent weekly, Savana.

Some of the 14 points in the mediators’ proposals are uncontroversial. No one is likely to disagree with the declaration that Mozambique “is a unitary state, which respects the principles of the deconcentration of power, territorial decentralization of the public administration, and autonomy of the municipalities”.

Provincial autonomy, the mediators say, “does not affect the unity of the State”. The relation between the various levels of state administration “will be defined by law”.

The key to the proposal is how to govern the provinces. Renamo wants the right to govern the six provinces where it claims that it won the 2014 general election. The mediators do not mention this Renamo claim, but make some more general proposals about provincial governance.

The provincial government, the document says, “is headed by the Provincial Governor, chosen locally”. The use of the word “chosen” sidesteps the issue of whether the governors should be appointed or elected.

Under the current Constitution, adopted unanimously (including by the Renamo parliamentary group) in 2004, the President of the Republic appoints and dismisses the governors. Renamo is demanding the right to appoint governors in the six provinces it claims. The second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), insists that the governors should be elected.