Since 2017, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s northernmost province, is the scene of a deadly insurrection. While foreigners have joined in the name of jihad, most of the Mozambican rank and file militants are motivated by their perceived socio-economic exclusion amid major mineral and hydrocarbon discoveries in the region. The conflict threatens national stability, just as Mozambique is fulfilling a peace deal with the country’s main opposition group in the center of Mozambique, and risks becoming a new frontier for global jihad to exploit. Crisis Group advocates for bespoke military support from external actors, dialogue with the Mozambican rank and file and measures to address the underlying frustrations that led these militants to take up arms.
The Al-Shabab insurgency continues to pose a threat to civilians in northern Mozambique. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023, Crisis Group explains how the EU and its member states can help stabilise the area.
Insurgent activity persisted at lower intensity in northern Cabo Delgado province; preparations for October municipal elections moved forward.
Islamic State militants remained active mostly in coastal Macomia district. Graves containing bodies of three individuals who went missing in early May in Chitoio village, Macomia district, discovered 5 June. Suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) militants sighted 7 June around coastal village of Pequeue in Macomia. Meanwhile, security forces mid-June reportedly reduced escorts on N380 road between Macomia district headquarters and Mucojo town. ISMP militants continued to engage communities peacefully in certain coastal areas, while also warning civilians against cooperation with security forces. Notably, militants 5 June searched bus near Ilala village along Macomia coast but let the passengers go unharmed, and 21 June reportedly entered Kalugo village in Mocímboa da Praia district, bought food and clothing before leaving.
Authorities appeared set to step up counter-insurgency operations in Macomia. Military 19 June reportedly ordered residents of several villages along Macomia coast to evacuate to make way for govt, Rwandan and Southern African forces operations, and 21 June blocked all travel to Mucojo town from Macomia town. Soldiers’ indiscipline continued to fuel distrust. Notably, security forces 9 June killed schoolteacher in Pamunda neighbourhood of Mocímboa da Praia district.
Ahead of October municipal elections, voter registration closed. Voter registration for municipal elections scheduled for 11 October concluded 3 June, amid accusations that as many as 1.5mn people, particularly in opposition-leaning areas in central and northern Mozambique, had been unable to register. In Cabo Delgado, however, more people than expected registered, notably in Pemba, Mocímboa da Praia, Ibo, Chiure, and Balama municipalities, which host villagers displaced by conflict.
Rwandan and southern African troops have helped authorities fight an Islamist insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s northernmost province. The threat is greatly lowered but not yet gone. Maputo will need more military assistance as well as a nudge to address the conflict’s political roots.
In this episode of The Horn’s mini-series exploring jihadism along the East African coast, Alan Boswell talks to Dr. Adriano Nuvunga about what caused the insurgency in Mozambique to grow and the need for a coordinated regional strategy that addresses its root causes.
This special mini-series of Crisis Group’s The Horn explores jihadism along the Swahili coast. In this first episode, Alan Boswell talks to Ngala Chome about the history of militant ideologies in Eastern Africa and how states can better address their growing threat.
Online event, in partnership with the South African weekly newspaper Mail & Guardian, to discuss how to prevent the Cabo Delgado insurrection from escalating into a new frontier for global jihadism.
Deadly conflict in Mozambique’s ruby- and natural gas-rich northernmost coastal province feeds on a mix of colonial-era tensions, inequality and Islamist militancy. To tame the insurrection, Maputo needs to use force, with bespoke assistance from outside partners, and to carefully address underlying grievances.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and guest co-host Comfort Ero talk to Crisis Group’s Deputy Africa Director Dino Mahtani about the violence in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado region, Maputo’s response and prospects for a regional intervention.
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