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.
Islamic State militants pushed toward southern districts of Cabo Delgado province, and opposition continued to reject October municipal elections’ results.
Islamic State militants moved south in Cabo Delgado province. Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) combatants late Oct-early Nov moved into Cabo Delgado’s southern districts of Meluco and Quissanga, the latter for the first time in a year, leading army to fortify positions against potential attack on provincial capital Pemba. Move may have been forced by military operations in Catupa forest area straddling Mocímboa da Praia, Muidumbe and Macomia districts, or be part of ISMP efforts to recruit and rebuild strength, with reports of peaceful interactions with residents in Quissanga; concerns also grew that group may try to free militants imprisoned in Pemba or neighbouring Metuge district. Meanwhile, militants launched several attacks in northern districts, forcing thousands to flee. In Macomia, combatants 10 Nov attacked Novo Cabo Delgado village, killing three and wounding four including community militia members. In Muidumbe, militants 12 Nov killed four people in Lagoa Nguri area, and 16 Nov killed another two and took several hostages in Mapate village.
Opposition protests over contested municipal elections continued, with one killed. Strains between ruling FRELIMO and main opposition RENAMO parties remained high following electoral violence in wake of October municipal elections. Interior Minister Pascoal Ronda 1 Nov announced 149 people arrested during unrest. RENAMO in Nov continued demonstrations and boycott of parliament to denounce widespread irregularities during vote; police 16 Nov used live bullets to repress opposition protest in Angoche town, Nampula province, killing one and wounding several others. Constitutional Council 24 Nov proclaimed final results with FRELIMO winning 56 municipalities, RENAMO four, smaller opposition party one, and ordered re-vote in four others, set for 10 Dec; preliminary results announced late Oct by electoral commission gave FRELIMO 64 of 65 municipalities. RENAMO 27 Nov announced it would file extraordinary appeal to annul Constitutional Council’s judgment validating ballot, arguing it jeopardises fundamental rights.
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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