Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi (pictured) says regional bloc Sadc has made room for the country to receive bilateral support in the fight against terrorism in Cabo Delgado, considering that the nation is sovereign.
“We are a sovereign nation and Sadc respects that,” Filipe Nyusi said, speaking during a visit to military units deployed in Sofala province in central Mozambique on Monday.
On Friday, Mozambique received a contingent of 1,000 Rwandan troops, deployed to support Mozambican forces in the fight against terrorism in Cabo Delgado, at a time when the country is expecting the arrival of the joint force designated by Sadc.
The arrival, first, of Rwandan troops was criticised by South Africa’s Defence minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who said on Saturday she “regretted” that “it happens before SADC has deployed its force”.
“Regardless of the bilateral agreement, it would be expected that Rwanda’s intervention to help Mozambique would happen within the regional mandate decided by the Sadc heads of state,” she said in an interview with South African public television SABC.
In his speech on Monday, Nyusi said Sadc accepted that Mozambique should work bilaterally in efforts to stop terrorism in Cabo Delgado at the same summit where the intervention of the organisation was approved.
“We are going to work with our brothers from Rwanda and Sadc is also coming,” Nyusi said, adding, however, that Mozambicans will lead the fight against rebel groups in Cabo Delgado as they know the terrain well.
The arrival of Rwandan troops to support the Mozambican forces was also criticised by the main opposition party (Renamo), which accuses the executive of violating the constitution by not having put the matter before parliament.
An Extraordinary Summit of Sadc Heads of State and Government meeting held in Maputo, Mozambique last month recommended the deployment of a standby force to help Mozambique fight terrorism and acts of extremism in Cabo Delgado.
The deployment of the force comes after the bloc’s technical assessment mission recommended the immediate deployment of forces in April to repel acts of extremism and terrorism in Mozambique.
The summit urged the member States in collaboration with Humanitarian Agencies to continue providing humanitarian support to the population affected by the terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, including the internally displaced persons.
The Heads of States and Governments also commended the Republic of Mozambique for offering to host Sadc Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) in Nacala, Mozambique, a centre that is expected to enhance regional preparedness, and timely response.
In April, the Sadc technical mission recommended the immediate deployment of intelligence assets (land, air and maritime) and personnel be deployed in support of FADM intelligence in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the terrorist activities.
The mission recommended that the Sadc Rapid Deployment comprised of Special Forces and naval assets to conduct targeted operations and eliminate maritime crime in the area of operation.
The terrorist attacks have led to the death of thousands of civilians while the number of internally displaced people has skyrocketed from 70 000 to 700 000.
— LUSA/STAFF REPORTER