Maputo (AFP) - Mozambique's government has agreed to a regional power-sharing deal with the main opposition party Renamo, representatives announced Wednesday, the first deal clinched in ongoing peace talks in Maputo.
Renamo has refused to accept the results of 2014 elections, when it was beaten once more by the Frelimo party, in power since independence 40 years ago.
Clashes between government forces and opposition fighters have intensified in recent months after Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama declared in December that he would take power in six of the country's 11 provinces, which he claims he won in the vote.
Peace talks between the two parties began last week under the watch of international mediators.
The agreement announced Wednesday -- a concession by the ruling party -- paves the way for legislation decentralising power in the southern African country.
"The president's delegation and the Renamo delegation agreed to set up... a sub-committee tasked with preparing a legislative package to come into force before the next election (in 2019)," Jose Manteigas, head of the opposition delegation, told reporters.
Temporary provincial governors from Renamo should also be appointed "as soon as possible", he added.
European Union mediator Angelo Romano on Wednesday hailed the agreement on Twitter as "important for the peace of Mozambique".
But several outstanding issues remain, including a durable ceasefire and the disarmament and integration of Renamo fighters into the regular army and police.
Frelimo and Renamo fought a bloody civil war between 1976 and 1992 that claimed one million lives.
Tensions have again been on the rise since 2013, with Renamo fighters taking up arms in a battle the party says is against a Frelimo elite which has enriched itself at the expense of the country.
Dhlakama has been living in hiding since October 2015 after he escaped two attacks against his convoy.
He claims government troops are continuously attacking his stronghold in Gorongosa in central Mozambique in an attempt to lure him out or kill him.