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 against govt forces remained high in Macomia district in northern Cabo Delgado province; authorities postponed district elections.

Macomia district continued to be hotspot of Cabo Delgado conflict. Suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) fighters 1 Aug killed nine soldiers near Ilala village; Southern African Development Community Mission to Mozambique (SAMIM) patrol hours later engaged insurgent cell, causing unknown number of casualties. ISMP militants 5-8 Aug killed at least seven soldiers in clashes near Catupa forest, and 22 Aug ambushed govt and SAMIM forces convoy travelling to Quiterajo village, killing nine. Army 23-25 Aug announced killing three senior ISMP executives, including commander of operations in Cabo Delgado, in Macomia forests; report is yet to be confirmed by Rwanda and SAMIM. Meanwhile, ISMP cells pursued hearts and minds strategy in some coastal areas, with militants 3 Aug buying goods and food from residents in Pangane (Macomia) and Marere (Mocímboa da Praia district) villages.

Reports of indiscipline within security forces in Cabo Delgado continued to emerge. Rwandan soldiers 1 Aug reportedly intervened after police beat local in Mocímboa da Praia town. Meanwhile, significant number of police officers and soldiers in Aug reportedly had salaries delayed for second month; delays in salary payments could add to indiscipline within security forces, creating additional hurdle in counter-insurgency efforts.

President Nyusi visit to Cabo Delgado overshadowed by postponed elections. As Nyusi visited Palma town and his home district Mueda, National Assembly 3 Aug approved indefinite postponement of district elections initially scheduled for 2024, due to financial and security constraints. Main opposition party RENAMO said decision threatens democracy and will allow ruling party to entrench hold on power. Meanwhile, mayor of Nampula city and RENAMO party member Paulo Vahanle alleged police officer 22 Aug attempted to kill him; RENAMO 26 Aug threatened to “bring country to a halt” in case of attacks on party members.

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