The head of Mozambique's rebel group, Afonso Dhlakama, has announced the extension of the current ceasefire in the country after long-standing civil-war foes the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (Renamo) guerrillas and the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) government agreed to a new year ceasefire last week.

Almost a quarter century after the end of a 16-year civil war that killed a million people, violence has escalated in the southern African nation, despite the international community's efforts at keeping the peace. Mozambique is one of Africa's fastest-growing economies and the country is looking to escape years of poverty and conflict by tapping into its huge energy resources.

A peace deal held until 2013, but since the middle of 2015, conflict has simmered again and so far an estimated 15,000 Mozambican refugees have fled to government-run camps or neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe.

"There were a few small incidents, but the seven day truce went well, so I announce the extension of the truce for 60 days, until 4 March", Dhlakama said on Tuesday morning (3 January) during a phone press conference in Maputo.

This comes a week after Dhlakama and President Filipe Nyusi agreed to a week-long truce "for the Mozambicans to spend the new year's holiday in peace".

In October, Human Rights Watch warned of a growing threat that civilians could become "legitimate targets" in the conflict after Renamo ramped up attacks against a number of villages and facilities, while the government has also been accused of carrying out a number of deadly army operations since October 2015.

For Joseph Hanlon, a journalist and development researcher, who has been chronicling Mozambique since 1978, the provisional truce (trégua provisória) and its extension is a positive step as the leaders also discussed several key issues.

These included the organisation of the next municipal and presidential elections, "in a good environment, which would mean democratising Mozambique".