The 16 African state leaders of the Nations members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), have gathered in an Extraordinary Summit on June 23, whereby all agreed on deploying military forces to combat the terrorist threat in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique.
“Summit endorsed the recommendations of the Report of the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation and approved the Mandate for the SADC Standby Force Mission to the Republic of Mozambique, to be deployed in support of Mozambique to combat of terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado.”, a communiqué issued yesterday reads.
The troops to be deployed are part of that organ’s exceptional defence mechanism that can be summoned during times of crisis. How many troops will be involved, as well as their geographical distribution and respective roles in the conflict, have not been detailed by the official statement.
However, FurtherAfrica reported in April that a SADC technical team mission proposed dispatching 2,916 military personnel, stating that “the evaluation team proposes the immediate deployment of a SADC alert force to assist the FADM [Armed Forces for the Defense of Mozambique] in combating the threat of terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado”.
The majority of the SADC military – according to the technical team – should consist of 1,860 elements from three light infantry battalions, followed by 140 elements from two special forces units and 120 from a communications team.
The sectors of military engineering and logistics units are to be composed of 100 staff, each, with the remaining areas being responsible for the other elements.
In terms of means, the evaluation team proposes that two patrol ships, a submarine, a maritime surveillance plane, six helicopters, two drones and four transport planes be sent to Mozambique.
This recent decision marks the first time the SADC has made its official diplomatic position clear in regards to the ongoing jihadist-fueled conflict in the northern region of Mozambique. The ensuing insecurity and humanitarian crisis has put Africa’s largest private investment project – TotalEnergies’s US$20B Mozambique LNG Area 1.
SADC members have previously disagreed on which approach – if any – would be best suited to tackle the insurgency movement, with South Africa leading the charge for a military solution, while Mozambique’s own President, Filipe Nyusi, has always been reluctant with receiving foreign assistance.