More Rwandan Troops to Deploy to Cabo Delgado, Mozambique

What You Need to Know:

Rwanda is planning to deploy more troops to Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region with support from a 20 million euro (21 million USD) grant from the European Union. Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado region has been under threat from various jihadist groups such as Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic State since late 2017. A report from South African publication ‘News24’ announced the coming deployment on Thursday, following information received from an undisclosed senior Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) Commander.

According to the report, Rwandan troops are set to arrive in Mozambique once troops connected to the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Military Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) withdraw in July, as agreed upon during the SADC’s extraordinary summit on Defence, Politics, and Security in late March. 

During the summit, it was agreed that SAMIM troops would redeploy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and supplement the SADC’s ongoing mission there, known as SAMIDRC. 

The Details:

The withdrawal of SAMIM was agreed upon due to financial constraints facing the SADC, with the community agreeing during its March summit that although ‘pockets of violence’ remain in Cabo Delgado, security responsibilities must now return to the hands of Mozambican security forces. 

The Rwandan force is set to supplement a contingent of more than 2,500 RDF personnel already in the country, said Brigadier General Patrick Karuretwa, head of the RDF’s International Cooperation. 

Rwanda’s presence in Mozambique is sanctioned through a bilateral agreement between Kigali and Maputo, as it is outside of the mandate of the United Nations. 

So, What Now?:

In mid February, Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vincent Biruta, wrote to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) urging it to withhold logistical and operational support from the SADC’s mission in the DRC, claiming it could ‘spark a regional war.’ 

Currently, the DRC’s armed forces alongside SAMIDRC troops are waging a counterinsurgency mission against various armed groups operating in the country’s east. The most prevalent group being M23, which the DRC accuses of being Rwandan-backed.  

Rwanda denies the link but various UN reports have provided evidence to support the claim. 

Conversely, Rwanda has claimed that SAMIDRC troops have been fighting alongside the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FLDR). The FDLR is a majority Hutu armed group operating in the eastern Congo, which Rwandan President Paul Kagame claims is attempting to destabilize his government. 

President Kagame is of Tutsi ethnicity, a minority ethnic group in Rwanda, whose members were killed en masse during the 1994 Rwandan genocide by Hutu radicals. It is estimated between 500,000 and 1 million Tutsi’s were killed in 100 days during the genocide. 

In recent months, mediation attempts between the DRC and Rwanda have been attempted by the African Union, with Angola acting as the mediatory nation. However, discussions between the two nations are yet to bear fruit.

However, the deployment of Rwandan troops to Cabo Delgado is likely to have a positive impact on the security situation in the region. The withdrawal of SAMIM troops would likely create a security vacuum, further emboldening armed groups in the area, which is something the Mozambican security services would be ill equipped to tackle alone.

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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