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.

CrisisWatch Mozambique

Unchanged Situation

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.

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