Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi declared on Monday that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has given its consent to the deployment of troops from Rwanda in the fight against islamist terrorists in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
A contingent of 1,000 Rwandan troops and police began arriving in Cabo Delgado last Friday, well in advance of the SADC Standby Force, which is expected to start deployment on 15 July.
Speaking to Mozambican military units at Muxungue, in the central province of Sofala, Nyusi said "We are a sovereign country. SADC respects this. It has allowed and accepts that we can work in a bilateral manner. We are going to work with our bothers from Rwanda who are arriving".
It is easier to work bilaterally, he added, because there is a single command, which is not the case in multilateral cooperation, when there are multiple commands.
He stressed that it is Mozambique that will take leadership of the military command, because the Mozambican defence and security forces know the terrain best. "Those who know Muidumbe, those who know Quissanga, those who know Matemo (two districts and an island in Cabo Delgado) are the defence and security forces of Mozambique", he stressed.
The military units in Sofala are fighting in Mozambique's second war, against the self-proclaimed "Renamo Military Junta", which broke away from the main opposition party, Renamo, in 2019.
Nyusi instructed the forces in Sofala to continue their operations until they have neutralised the Junta's leader, Mariano Nhongo, who claims that he is true president of Renamo. He calls Renamo leader Ossufo Momade, who was elected at a Renamo congress in January 2019, "a traitor", and rejects the peace agreement signed between Nyusi and Momade in August of that year.
Nyusi urged Nhongo to surrender "because we don't want to be distracted by fighting against those who know perfectly well that they can live with their brothers without any problem".
He regarded the eventual surrender of Nhongo as "inevitable". Indeed the Junta's war seems to be winding down - last year there were regular ambushes by the Junta against vehicles travelling on the main roads in Sofala and the neighbouring province of Manica, but no such attacks have been reported since January.
The demilitarisation of Renamo is continuing, and Nyusi said that last week another Renamo military base, at Zobue, in the western province of Tete, was closed. The former Renamo guerrillas were being demobilised and disarmed, and were returning to civilian life. They could be sure that nothing bad would happen to them, the President stressed.
Nyusi said this invitation to return to peaceful coexistence with other Mozambicans also extends to the terrorists in Cabo Delgado, regardless of whether they were press-ganged or deceived by their leaders, or joined the extremist groups voluntarily.