The President of Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, has defended the deployment of a 1,000-strong joint force by Rwanda in his country last week, to help stem out insurgents in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
President Nyusi, who was reacting to complaints by some members of the the South African Development Community (SADC), who lamented about Rwanda deploying ahead of the bloc, said that the coordination of the military intervention in Cabo Delgado is the responsibility of his Government, according to VOA Portuguese.
The Mozambican leader defended Rwanda’s deployment on Monday, 12, affirming that it was done on his invitation. The Government of Rwanda, at the request of the Government of Mozambique, last Friday, started the deployment of a 1,000-person contingent of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and the Rwanda National Police (RNP) to Cabo Delgado Province which is affected by terrorism and insecurity.
President Nyusi’s remarks follow complaints by the South African Defence Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Saturday, July 10, who said that the deployment of Rwanda forces in Mozambique was ‘bilateral’ and that it is “regrettable” that the arrival of Rwandan troops “happened before SADC has deployed its strength”.
Mapisa-Nqakula however admitted that SADC had no control over the decision because it was an agreement between the two countries. The SADC has come under criticism in recent months for failing to act when needed, particularly in Mozambique and Eswatini -two countries which have faced growing civil unrest and military insurgency.
President Nyusi came to Rwanda’s defence during a visit to military units in Sofala province, sating that “we are a sovereign country and SADC respects that”, adding that SADC accepted the bilateral efforts of Mozambique to seek more support to tackle terrorism in Cabo Delgado.
Nyusi made assurances that Mozambique “will work with our brothers in Rwanda and SADC”. Rwanda is yet to respond to the South African Minister.
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. President Nyusi visited Rwanda on Wednesday, April 28 and held talks with President Paul Kagame to discuss the issue of insecurity and how Rwanda can chip in.
The Rwandan contingent is supporting efforts to restore Mozambican state authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilisation and security-sector reform (SSR). Rwanda’s Ambassador to Mozambique, Claude Nikobisanzwe, over the weekend shared photos of Rwanda troops taking their positions in the troubled province.
Rwanda said the deployment is based on the good bilateral relations between the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Mozambique, following the signing of several agreements between the two countries in 2018, and is grounded in Rwanda’s commitment to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine and the 2015 Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians.
Since October 2017, armed extremists linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched an insurgency in the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique. The Mozambican government launched attacks on the group but it has since failed to stem the insurgents out.