Rwanda deploys troops to fight Mozambique terrorists

Harare (New Ziana) – The Rwandan government on Friday announced an immediate deployment of troops into Mozambique as part of a coordinated military response with Southern African Development Community countries to quell an Islamist insurgency in Northern Mozambique.

Late last month, SADC Heads of State and Government, at an extraordinary summit held in Mozambique, agreed on a regional military deployment in a historic decision that will see a regional army deploy in a member state for a counter- terrorism operation.

In a statement, the Rwandan government said it was deploying at Mozambique’s request.

“The Government of Rwanda, at the request of the Government of Mozambique, will today (Friday) start the deployment of a 1 000-person contingent of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and the Rwanda National Police (RNP) to Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique, which is currently affected by terrorism and insecurity,” read part of the statement.

“The Joint Force will work closely with Mozambique Armed Defence Forces (FADM) and forces from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in designated sectors of responsibility. The Rwandan contingent will support efforts to restore Mozambican state authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilisation and security-sector reform.”

The deployment by Rwanda comes as SADC is still finalising the details of the regional army’s deployment to Mozambique.

Last week, the SADC Council of Ministers met virtually and approved a USD12 million budget to put into motion the SADC Standby Force that will deploy to Mozambique.

Finer details of the impending deployment are yet to be made public.

However, a May 2021 proposal by a technical team headed by Brigadier Michael Mukokomani of Botswana, in his capacity as Chief of Staff of the SADC Standby Force, recommended the deployment of a light infantry brigade of three battalions of 620 soldiers each and a staff of 90 for the brigade headquarters.

The recommendation includes deployment of two special forces squadrons of 70 each, an engineer’s squadron of 100, and a signals squadron of 120; in addition to a logistics company of 100 and four intelligence operatives; two patrol ships with a crew of 180 each, and two submarines with a crew of 45.

For air support, the recommendation is six helicopters, four transport aircraft, two maritime surveillance aircraft and two unmanned aerial drones.

It remains to be seen if the technical report will be adopted in its entirety or in part.

The crisis in Mozambique – which festered from 2017 but grabbed international attention in 2020 has resulted in the deaths of at least 2 800 people and the displacement of about 800 000 others.

The United Nations has estimated that more than 900 000 people are under severe food insecurity in Cabo Delgado, and also in urgent need of shelter, protection and other services.

The economic cost has also been great, as the violence by the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (ASWJ) terrorists halted a US$20 billion liquefied natural gas development by French oil giant Total.

ASWJ has openly aligned itself with Islamic State, and – along with other rebels in fellow SADC member state the DRC – has declared its intention to establish a Caliphate of East and

Southern Africa.

The rebels have ransacked towns and assumed control of key areas and infrastructure in a campaign that has included beheading of civilians and capturing of sex slaves.
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