* Ceasefire extended till March 4 after call with president
* Govt, rebels fighting over results of 2014 vote
* Mozambique on verge of developing huge gas reserves
(Adds quotes, details, background)
By Manuel Mucari
MAPUTO, Jan 3 Mozambique's Renamo opposition
party said on Tuesday it had extended a ceasefire by two months
to allow talks with President Filipe Nyusi's government, raising
hopes for a nascent peace process.
Both sides have clashed sporadically since Renamo challenged
the results of the southern African nation's 2014 elections.
Analysts say competition over natural resources could also
be exacerbating unrest - Mozambique is on the verge of
developing huge offshore gas reserves which could transform one
of the world's poorest countries into a middle-income state.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama announced a seven-day truce a
week ago after what he described as a long and constructive
telephone conversation with Nyusi. The ceasefire extension
followed another call between the two rivals.
"It is reassuring that both sides (agreed to ceasefire) so
things can go well and provide peace for Mozambicans," Dhlakama,
who is in hiding, told reporters in a teleconference.
"I am the head of the family. I am Mozambican and we are
really doing this to reduce the deaths in Mozambique."
Members of the current government and Renamo fought on
opposing sides in a civil war from 1976 to 1992 that killed an
estimated 1 million people.
Dhlakama and Nyusi have not met face-to-face since February
2015 and distrust between the two has led to several ceasefires
collapsing since Nyusi won the disputed 2014 vote.
Since the poll, Renamo has demanded it rule in the six
provinces where it won the most votes, while the government has
called for the opposition to disarm before opening discussions.
Fighting between the two sides usually takes place in the
remote interior, making it difficult to assess the extent of the
Early last year, tens of thousands of Mozambicans fled
across the border into Malawi to escape violence and alleged
human rights abuses.
(Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Andrew Heavens)