Rwanda Troops to Help Mozambique Fight IS-Linked Insurgents

Rwanda will start deploying 1,000 soldiers and police officers to Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province on Friday to help the southeast African nation fight an Islamic State-linked insurgency.

The deployment comes at the Mozambique government’s request as it seeks to end a conflict that’s left more than 3,000 people dead and halted Africa’s biggest private investment yet.

The joint force will work closely with Mozambique’s armed forces and those that the Southern African Development Community regional bloc plans to send, the government of Rwanda said in a statement on its website.

“The Rwandan contingent will support efforts to restore Mozambican state authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilization and security-sector reform,” according to the statement.

Mozambique has for almost four years battled to contain an insurgency that’s grown rapidly in the past year with militants staging increasingly sophisticated attacks. An assault on the town of Palma in March prompted TotalEnergies SE to halt work and evacuate its staff from a $20 billion project to produce liquefied natural gas for export.

That project had been due to start production in 2024 and was set to transform the economy of one of the world’s poorest nations.

While the Rwandan troops will boost Mozambique’s response, the deployment may also cause some tension. It’s not clear how they will operate alongside forces from SADC, which agreed last month to send a standby brigade to the region. When Bloomberg reported last month that Rwanda intended to deploy, SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Tax said Mozambique was yet to inform the organization of the plans.

The 16-nation regional bloc, of which Rwanda is not a member, is due to start operations in Cabo Delgado by July 15, state-owned Radio Mocambique reported Friday, citing a letter from Tax to the United Nations. The SADC force will operate for an initial three months, which could be extended, the radio station reported.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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