MAPUTO, 7 April 2021 – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has ruled out foreign military intervention in fighting Islamist militants in the country’s northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Dozens of civilians have been killed and at least 11,000 displaced after al-Shabab Islamist militants invaded Palma last March 24, overrunning the town.
The rejection comes days after Portugal, the country’s former colonial power, said it was dispatching elite forces to the southern African nation.
A week earlier, the American embassy in Maputo had confirmed that Washington, DC, was sending special operations forces to help with training.
Government forces announced Monday that they had retaken control of Palma after losing control to the insurgents for a week.
Nyusi said victory could not be declared until the country completely defeats the jihadists all over the country.
The Mozambican leader has said his government welcomes any support aimed at strengthening his country’s defense and security forces.
In the past, according to intelligence reports cited Wednesday by news reports, the government of Mozambique recruited mercenaries from Russia and South Africa to help fight the insurgency.
Six Southern African presidents will on Thursday hold emergency talks on the crisis.
The leaders of Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe will join their Mozambican counterpart that is convening for a summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the Mozambican capital, Maputo.
SADC’s chairperson, President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, said the attacks were an affront to the peace and security of Mozambique, the region, and the international community.
The insurgency in the northern Cabo Delgado Province began in 2017.
It has killed nearly 3,000 people and displaced over 750,000 others.
Mozambican state television on Wednesday reported that Palma is now completely safe, adding that local residents who fled the town during the invasion and fighting, have started returning.
Since October 2017, the Islamic extremist armed group known as Ahlu Sunna Wal-Jama, has claimed responsibility for most of the incessant attacks on civilians, government forces, and military installations in Cabo Delgado, notably on the coast from Pemba city to the Tanzanian border.
The government’s response has been criticized for leading to further human rights abuses, including the arrest and detention of journalists covering events in Cabo Delgado and the targeting of civilians suspected of supporting the jihadists.