“In the same way that we agreed to go to Ancuabe, which is another district, when the request was made to us, I believe that if this request [to expand operations] is made to our administration, we would consider it,” spokesperson for the Rwandan Ministry of Defence, Ronald Riwanga is quoted by Mozambique Television today as saying.
At issue is the departure, starting this month, of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission in Mozambique, a force that, like Rwanda, has supported operations and combat against rebel groups in Cabo Delgado.
In addition to Ancuabe, Rwandan forces now operate mainly in Mocímboa da Praia and Palma, but the attention of Mozambican forces is now on the banks of the Messalo River, between Muidumbe and Macomia, further north in the province.
“The most important thing is to work together with the Mozambican forces to pacify the province of Cabo Delgado,” highlighted Ronald Riwanga.
With Rwanda, which arrived in July 2021, and the SADC Mission (SAMIM), which arrived in the province in August of the same year, the Maputo military offensive is claimed to have restored a climate of security in the region that had not been felt for years, recovering locations that were controlled by the rebels, such as the village of Mocímboa da Praia, which had been occupied since 2020.
The Mozambican army considers that security has been re-established in around 90% of the province, arguing that conditions exist for the return of private enterprise, including the French oil company TotalEnergies, which leads the Area 1 consortium, a €20 billion gas exploration investment in Afungi.
Work there was suspended indefinitely after an armed attack on Palma in March, 2021, when the French energy company declared that it would only resume work when the area was safe.
The province of Cabo Delgado has been facing an armed insurgency for six years with attacks claimed by the extremist Islamic State group and its affiliates.
The conflict has already displaced one million people, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and caused around 4,000 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project.
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