Regional Troops Set to Arrive in Mozambique to Help Fight Rebels

Soldiers from a regional bloc are set to arrive in Mozambique from Thursday to help fight an Islamic State-linked insurgency that’s left more than 3,000 people dead and halted Africa’s biggest private investment yet.

The so-called status of forces document will be delivered to the 16-member Southern African Development Community by Wednesday to allow for troops to be sent to the southeast African nation, Mozambique Defense Minister Jaime Neto said by phone.

Mozambique had until now resisted allowing foreign armies to help battle a near four-year-old insurgency in the northern Cabo Delgado province, even as the extremist rebels seized key towns and caused almost 800,000 people to flee their homes.

The government had previously bolstered its army with mercenaries, who struggled to contain the violence that has put at risk gas projects that the country is banking on to transform its economy. In March, TotalEnergies SE froze work on its $20 billion facility to produce liquefied natural gas for export after militants occupied a nearby town and killed dozens of people.

The southern African troops will join those from Rwanda, which isn’t part of the bloc and has already started sending 1,000 soldiers and police to Mozambique. The deployment of Rwandan forces has caused frustration within SADC, which had been trying to persuade Mozambique to accept its soldiers for months.

The natural-gas rich nation’s government was yet to officially notify the bloc of Rwanda dispatching troops, according to Stergomena Tax, SADC’s executive secretary.

“It is unfortunate,” she said by text message on Tuesday. “In line with SADC summit decisions, other deployments are to be in line with SADC guiding instruments, and this can only happen after SADC deployment.”

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