HARARE, (The Southern African Times) – A Southern African Development Community technical team will assess the threat that Islamist militants pose to Mozambique to determine how to respond to the insurgency, the country’s foreign minister said.
The bloc agreed to deploy the team after regional leaders met April 8 to discuss the escalating violence in the northeast of the country.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the meeting also agreed to revive a so-called SADC brigade to intervene in the conflict.
Foreign Minister Veronica Macamo didn’t directly answer a question on whether Mozambique had agreed that SADC forces will help the government fight the Islamic State-linked insurgency, only highlighting that the technical team would make a determination on what’s needed.
Under SADC rules, a member state must make an official request for the group to deploy the brigade.
SADC leaders are scheduled to meet again on April 29 to discuss the issue. The organisation has already held a series of meetings on the conflict and is yet to announce any definitive response other than condemning the violence and expressing solidarity to those it impacts.
The latest attack on the town of Palma, located near a $20 billion natural gas export project, marked a significant escalation in the conflict that the government has failed to contain since it started in October 2017.
Mozambique’s government has so far resisted outside military intervention in the northern Cabo Delgado province, other than training programs it agreed to this year with the U.S. and Portugal.
In a speech before the SADC meeting last week, President Filipe Nyusi said he’d already made it clear to other countries what Mozambique needs from them to combat terrorism.
“Those who arrive from outside will not come to replace us, they will come to support us,” he said. “It is not about empty pride. It is about a sense of sovereignty.”