Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has declared that there are good prospects for effective peace in the country next year.

Nyusi was quoted by Radio Mozambique as saying this Monday in the northern province of Nampula, where he has been taking his Christmas break. The president based his optimism on a long telephone conversation which he had earlier on Monday with the leader of the Renamo rebels, Afonso Dhlakama.

Nyusi described the conversation as promising.

I, and the Renamo President, Afonso Dhlakama, managed to speak, and the call was simply to wish each other happy holidays, and to know how things are going. But, as always, this type of contact must be exploited to the maximum. We took the opportunity to speak at length about the question of peace, the president said.

It was a long call and I was encouraged about what we have always been saying, that, in one way or another, the hostilities must stop. Nobody should die because of differences in ideas or positions, differences between individuals.:

Dhlakama told Nyusi he would hold a media conference summarizing the results of the conversation. Recent Dhlakama news conferences have always been held by telephone from his military base in the central district of Gorongosa.

Nyusi decided he would allow Dhlakama to give his own version of what the two men talked about. Perhaps we’ll leave it so that the Renamo president can say what we talked about, but it was an interesting conversation. When we speak, it is always good, to find solutions, even if they are provisional, temporary, but this always sends a signal of hope for the entire country, the president added.

The last time Nyusi and Dhlakama met face to face was in Maputo in February 2015, shortly after Nyusi had been sworn into office as President of the Republic. They met twice in that month, and the main outcome of those talks was that Dhlakama called off the Renamo boycott of parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

Since the February 2015 meetings, Dhlakama has not set foot in Maputo again, and, despite repeated invitations from the head of state, has never spoken face-to-face with Nyusi again. Their contacts have been limited to phone calls.

Earlier this year, after Renamo renewed its insurgency in the central provinces, a Joint Commission was set up between the government and Renamo, with the main task of preparing another Nyusi-Dhlakama meeting. But the Commission has become bogged down in other matters, notably possible new legislation on decentralization and provincial governance, and there is still no sign of a meeting between the two leaders.