SADC leaders to meet over Mozambique unrest

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Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will meet today to deliberate on measures against militant attacks in Mozambique.

An armed militant group believed to be affiliated with the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group attacked the coastal town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province near the border with Tanzania late March, killing dozens and injuring scores of others.

“SADC is deeply concerned about the continued terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, especially for the lives and welfare of the residents who continue to suffer from the atrocious, brutal and indiscriminate assaults,” the regional block of 16 countries said in a statement.

According to a notification sent to member states by the bloc’s secretariat, there will be a meeting of defence and security clusters from all member states on the first day.

These are drawn from the military, intelligence services and the police.

That will be followed by a meeting of the commanders of the countries’ defence and security clusters.

The first day will be capped by a ministerial meeting of the troika composed of foreign affairs ministers from Tanzania (SADC chair), Zimbabwe, SA and Botswana.

The second day will start with the Troika summit where Zimbabwe, Botswana and SA’s presidents will meet since they form the organ on politics, defence and security.

It will end with a meeting comprising heads of all member states.

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi, also the current chairperson of the SADC Troika Organ on Politics, Defense and Security, said: “The attacks in Mozambique were an affront to peace and security, not only in Mozambique, but also in the region and the international community as a whole.”

The SADC extraordinary Double Troika Summit will be held in Mozambique’s capital Maputo today to devise measures to address terrorism which continues to destabilize northern parts of that country.

The armed group, locally known as al-Shabaab but with no established links to the armed militant group in Somalia, has wreaked havoc in northern Mozambique since late 2017, killing hundreds, displacing communities, and capturing towns.

The northern province of Mozambique is rich in natural gas, and companies such as France’s Total SE are to extract liquefied natural gas (LNG) from offshore sites in the Indian Ocean, but experts say such attacks could derail the project.

Investments by Total and others are estimated at $23 billion, one of the largest investments on the continent.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 11,000 people are said to have fled Palma following recent attacks.

More than 670,000 people are said to be displaced inside Mozambique due to the conflict in Cabo Delgado – almost seven times the number reported a year ago.

At least 2,614 people have died in the conflict, including 1,312 civilians.

Humanitarian agencies say the situation has seriously deteriorated over the past 12 months, with the escalation of attacks on villages.

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