Rwanda deploying another 2500 soldiers to help Mozambique fight Cabo Delgado insurgency

Maputo — Rwanda is deploying an additional 2,500 soldiers to help Mozambique fight resurgent attacks by Islamic State insurgents in the oil-rich Cabo Delgado province. Attacks have been on the rise in the area as a force known as SAMIM, deployed by the Southern African Development Community, prepares to withdraw.

President Filipe Nyusi was quoted by state-run radio late Sunday as saying the troops are being deployed not because Mozambique cannot ensure its own defense, but because the country cannot fight terrorism alone.

Nyusi, who is due to step down in January 2025 at the end of his second five-year term, said it is clear that Rwanda is cooperating with Mozambique, adding that his greatest pride would be to leave things well done to ensure continuity.

He said more contingents are disembarking, not to exchange, but to add flow. And this is mainly because of the departure of SAMIM, and when it definitively leaves the hotspot area we will occupy it.

Nyusi made the statement during a review of the visit he made to Rwanda’s capital last week.

He was in Kigali to attend the Africa CEO forum, and he seized the opportunity to meet with his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, and the chief executive officer of French company TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanné.

Cabo Delgado has been facing an armed insurgency since 2017 that has disrupted several multi-billion oil and natural gas projects. Three years ago, Rwanda deployed 1,000 soldiers to fight alongside Mozambique’s armed defense and was joined by SAMIM.

The regional intervention force will completely withdraw in July, forcing the Mozambican Armed Defense Forces (FADM) to fill the security vacuum.

TotalEnergies is building a plant near Palma for the production and export of natural gas, at the cost $20 billion, but the project has been suspended since 2021.

Rwanda’s additional military support to Mozambique was welcomed by TotalEnergies chief Pouyanné, who said the natural gas project district will soon resume.

He said, I believe we have progressed very positively with contractors, and from this point of view we are ready to resume. He said we are also working with all the credit agencies to resume the financing of the project and it’s progressing very well.

ExxonMobil, with partner Eni, is also developing a liquified natural gas project in northern Mozambique and said last week it was “optimistic and looking forward” for the security situation to improve.

SAMIM’s withdrawal from Mozambique, the result of financial difficulties, comes at a time when terrorist attacks have increased in Cabo Delgado. A week ago, Islamic State-backed insurgents ransacked the major town of Macomia in Cabo Delgado province following a dawn assault in which over 20 soldiers may have been killed, according to local media reports.

A senior project leader for South Africa-based Institute of Justice and Reconciliation, Webster Zambara, said SADC should reconsider its withdrawal.

“Actually it’s the first time in Southern Africa where we would have a troop from east Africa stationed in one country to fight a war that actually is affecting not only one country Mozambique, but others like Tanzania, also Malawi and probably the whole region, and the bigger picture is that terrorism issues tend to be very long if we are to look at al-Shabab in East Africa and also Boko Haram in West Africa, so we may actually need to see SADC revisiting its position on this,” said Zambara.

Last month, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), issued an appeal for almost half a billion dollars in emergency aid to support affected and displaced Mozambicans in Cabo Delgado.

The humanitarian crisis there has left 1.3 million people needing humanitarian aid.

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