Mozambique: SADC orders vague ‘technical deployment’, seeks ‘proportionate response’ to insurgency

Presidents Ramaphosa, Nyusi, Masisi and Mnangagwa meeting in Maputo, April 8

A regional meeting has ended in Maputo with a decision “on an immediate technical deployment” to prepare “a proportionate regional response” to a spreading insurgency in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province.

No details were given on the deployment, but ahead of the meeting, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi had said his country wanted a SADC assessment of what his country needs to allow it to lead a response.

“Double Troika Summit directed an immediate technical deployment to the Republic of Mozambique, and the convening of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ by 28 April 2021 that will report to the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit on 29 April 2021,” a communique at the end of the meeting said.

The conflict has killed over 2,000 people and displaced at least 700,000 more. Nyusi has, however, been previously reluctant to call for a full SADC intervention.

“Our government has told the international community the needs for the fight against terrorism, and these needs are being assessed,” Nyusi said in a speech on Wednesday. “Those who arrive from abroad will not replace us, they will support us. It is not empty pride. It is a sense of sovereignty.”

Nyusi said a military response alone would not end the conflict, which has been fed by poverty in what is the country’s poorest region. The deprivation has worsened is in the shadows of new multibillion-dollar energy projects being developed by France’s Total and American company ExxonMobil.

Foreign intervention in what is a localised conflict may prove complicated for the region, where no country has experience in fighting Islamic insurgencies.

Security analyst Jasmine Opperman of the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, which has been monitoring the insurgency as it festered over the past decade, has cautioned that intervention would be complex.

“It is not a quick fix and with insurgent numbers that have significantly increased, this requires a sustained presence for at least two years,” she said.