AU and SADC must act on Mozambique – ISS


With the security situation in northern Mozambique “deteriorating alarmingly” it’s high time the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) provided assistance to stem violence in Cabo Delgado.

This call comes from respected African security think tank, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), headquartered in Pretoria with offices in Addis Ababa, Dakar and Kenya.

In a statement issued after insurgents reportedly seized the northern Mozambique port town Mocimboa da Praia this week, the ISS said Mozambique “should be a priority” for SADC leaders who meet next week for a summit. The summit will see chairmanship of the regional bloc handed to Mozambique.

“The security situation in northern Mozambique is deteriorating at an alarming rate. Attacks by violent extremists claimed over a thousand lives and displaced 250 000 people since October 2017. Infrastructure was destroyed and citizens robbed of their livelihoods,” the ISS statement said.

“The number of incidents escalated this year, forcing scores to abandon their homes. Communities are caught between heavy-handed government responses and attacks by insurgents, some of which Islamic State (IS) claims responsibility for.

“Military action by the Mozambique government, including continued use of mercenaries, has not stopped attacks and worsened the plight of civilians.

“Left unchecked, the insurgency is likely to grow and spill into neighbouring countries. Human security in the region could further deteriorate as seen elsewhere in Africa such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Lake Chad Basin.

“Mozambique should not be expected to deal with a potential regional security threat of this gravity alone. As a member of SADC and the AU, it has recourse to regional and continental support.

“Mozambique is a state party to 15 of 19 international conventions and protocols against terrorism and the AU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism – all of which provide for assistance from the international community under the current circumstances.

“Various SADC instruments oblige the regional body to come to Mozambique’s aid. For instance, Article 6(1) of the SADC Mutual Defence Pact stipulates an ‘An armed attack against a state party shall be considered a threat to regional peace and security and such an attack shall be met with immediate collective action.’

“In addition, SADC’s 2015 regional counter-terrorism strategy, developed in line with the UN global counter-terrorism strategy, provides for assistance in preventing youth radicalisation, border security, humanitarian aid and tackling the root causes of terrorism.

“SADC should invoke Article 6(1) of the Pact and implement its 2015 counter-terrorism strategy to combat the insurgency in northern Mozambique and prevent it spilling over regionally.

“The SADC summit of the Troika of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security in Harare in May put the Mozambican insurgency on the SADC agenda. After hours of deliberations the meeting concluded without any concrete agreement on SADC’s role.

“The upcoming SADC summit is a crucial opportunity to take decisive action to help end the crisis,” the ISS maintains.