Southern African leaders put forward a show of unity on Thursday as they discussed a solution to the Mozambican insurgency.
Leaders of the South African Development Community’s (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security met with Mozambique in a closed session to discuss the recommendations of a technical committee that assessed the threat in the country in April.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, along with current organ chairperson, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi, and outgoing chairperson, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa met with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in the Extraordinary Troika Summit.
“We can all attest that it is a key responsibility of any president to keep his or her people safe,” said Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
“It is therefore my fervent hope that the recommendations before us will provide us with a solution for exactly that – to keep our people safe.”
Mozambique has in the past rebuffed regional intervention. The March attacks in Palma, and the extraordinary summit that followed, marked a turning point.
Masisi said:During our extraordinary summit of April 2021, we spoke with one voice, that now is the time to act, and act collectively, and decisively as we send a message to these faceless terrorists.
Nyusi, speaking before the next closed session which included Tanzania and Malawi, said the meeting was “a singular moment of our common objectives”.
The leaders will now discuss the decisions taken by the troika.
“We are all aware that the adoption of measures to combat terrorism and violent extremism in our region requires all of us to draw inspiration from the past and a deep understanding of the new dynamics to better devise co-ordinated actions. This exercise is premised on consultations,” added Mozambique’s president.
The April summit of ministers received a report that recommended the deployment of nearly 3 000 SADC Special Forces troops. Yet, while SADC positioned the issue as a regional threat, which must be managed by the leaders of southern Africa, Mozambique’s president has sought help from further afield.
Last month, Nyusi met with Rwanda President Paul Kagame who reportedly also sent an assessment team to Cabo Delgado.
He also met with France’s Emmanuel Macron in May, while his defence minister met with his Portuguese counterpart. Portugal has already deployed a military training team to Mozambique following the Palma attacks.
Analysts have warned that while Mozambique appeared to be more open to regional intervention, the country was unlikely to accept any help perceived as compromising its sovereignty.
The summit also saw the establishment of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre, which will be hosted in Mozambique. Another extraordinary summit will be held on 20 June, again in Mozambique.
Since 2017, the conflict has displaced more than 700 000 people and more than 2 500 civilians have been killed.
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