We are a sovereign country - Filipe Nyusi defending presence of Rwandan troops in Mozambique

On 13 July 2021 at 02:20

The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi has defended the presence of Rwandan troops in Cabo Delgado and highlighted that coordination of military intervention in the area is the responsibility of his Government.

Nyusi was speaking on Monday 12th July 2021 during a visit to military units in Sofala province, Mozambique.

His statement is considered a response to South Africa’s Minister of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula who recently criticized the deployment of Rwandan troops before SADC saying it was "regrettable" that the arrival of Rwandan troops "happened before SADC had deployed its strength."

Ossufo Momade, the president of Renamo (main opposition party in Mozambique) also criticized the presence of Rwandan troops in Mozambique considering it illegal and accused Filipe Nyusi of having violated the Constitution by not taking this request from foreign forces to the Parliament.

"The President must respect the Constitution and take this matter to the Assembly of the Republic," Ossufo Momade said on Monday.

"What we thought would happen was that SADC would come with its force from the 15th, but we were surprised when we realized that the Rwandan force arrived first, which worries Mozambicans," he added.

Nyusi explained that SADC accepted the bilateral efforts of his Government to seek more support to tackle terrorism in Cabo Delgado and assured to ‘work with our brothers in Rwanda and SADC’.

“We are a sovereign country and SADC respects that," he said.

The President reiterated that those who will lead the fight against rebel groups in Cabo Delgado are the Mozambicans, who know the terrain well.

Rwanda recently on 9th July 2021 started the deployment of 1000 troops of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and the Rwanda National Police (RNP). The second batch left the country on Saturday afternoon to fight terrorism and insurgency in the Southern Africa nation.

Rwandan troops have already arrived in the Southern Africa country and are on standby to conduct operations to fight rebel groups linked the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The group sometimes calls themselves al-Shabaab, although they do not have known links with the Somali al-Shabaab.

The situation started worsening in October 2017 when armed extremists linked ISIL launched an insurgency in the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique.

Since then, Mozambique Defence Armed Forces have been battling the extremists.

Many civilians have been displaced by the fighting.

Following different attacks, the militants seized the port town of Mocimboa da Praia August 2020.

Over fifty people were beheaded by terrorists in the province in April 2020 and a similar number in November 2020.

Among others, the militants seized Palma on 24th March 2021, murdering dozens of civilians displacing more than 35,000 of the town’s 75,000 residents.

So far, intensified fight between rebels and Government soldiers for the past four years has claimed lives of 3000 civilians leaving over 800,000 displaced.

The incessant violence prompted the visit of Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi to Rwanda in April 2021 where he discussed the problem with his counterpart Paul Kagame.

The statement released by the Government of Rwanda ahead of sending troops to Mozambique reads that the deployment is a response to the request of the Government of Mozambique.

Towards the end of last week, President Nyusi welcomed Rwandan troops expressing optimism that they will work with his country’s youth.

Rwanda sent troops to fight terrorism and insurgency in Mozambique following talks between President Filipe Nyusi and his counterpart, Paul Kagame.