Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has again re-affirmed his willingness to meet with Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Renamo rebels, and his determination to guarantee an effective and lasting peace in the country.

Speaking at the traditional year-end reception at the Presidential gardens here Wednesday, Nyusi, in a clear reference to Renamo, attacked those Mozambicans who advocate a patriotism based on the destruction of what was collectively built.

Nyusi said 2016 had been a difficult year which had obliged the government to take difficult monetary and fiscal measures, which were necessary to alter the prevailing situation. He believed these measures were taking effect, as could be seen in a recovery in the exchange rate of the national currency, the metical, and he predicted a slowdown in the rate of inflation in 2017.

Our institutions are continuing to function, and we have built economic and social infrastructures that are the cornerstone for compliance with the government’s programme. From that we conclude that the state of the nation stands firm, he added.

There are hopes for financial and social stability next year but this will require a great deal of work and unity from all of us.

Let us work to keep the country peaceful and stable, on the path of progress, consolidating democracy and the institutions of the state, guaranteeing freedom of creation and of expression, so that the construction of social well-being may be inclusive and the work of all of us, urged Nyusi.

Meanwhile, Dhlakama has refused to order a truce over the Christmas period. In an interview published in Thursday’s issue of the independent daily, O Pais, he was asked whether the attacks would cease over the Christmas and New Year period.

It is not easy to state that there will be no attacks. I would like this not to happen. But this does not just depend on one of the parties. I cannot guarantee that nobody will come to attack us and that we will not be obliged to attack in response, he replied.

Dhlakama claimed that recent Renamo attacks against trains on the Sena line, between the Moatize coal basin and the port of Maputo, were justified as a response to alleged government attacks on Renamo military bases.

All Renamo’s military actions are reactions, he claimed. Because if we don’t respond, Frelimo (the ruling party) will continue to send its battalions to attack us. The only way to stop them is by responding, he said.