Southern African leaders to hold summit on jihadist threat

The meeting is expected to discuss the possibility of SADC deploying 3,000 troops to battle the insurgents.

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Extraordinary Double Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Maputo, Republic of Mozambique, on 8 April 2021. The summit deliberated measures to address terrorism in the Republic of Mozambique. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Leaders of the southern African regional bloc SADC will hold an extraordinary summit on Thursday in Maputo to discuss the violence engulfing northern Mozambique, the South African presidency said Wednesday.

The top-level meeting of the Southern African Development Community was postponed in April because of scheduling conflicts.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead South Africa's delegation to the talks, the presidency said in a statement.

"The SADC Extraordinary Double Troika will discuss terrorism engulfing the region, including insecurity in the Cabo Delgado Province in the Republic of Mozambique," it said.

The meeting is expected to discuss the possibility of SADC deploying 3,000 troops to battle the insurgents.

Jihadist violence has escalated in the gas-rich north of Mozambique since it broke out in late 2017.

Islamic State-linked militants launched coordinated attacks on the northern town of Palma on March 24, ransacking buildings and murdering residents as thousands fled into the surrounding bush.

The assault marked an intensification of violence that has driven some 700,000 to flee their homes, leaving more than 2,800 people dead according to NGOs and the United Nations.

Mozambique so far has shied away from openly asking for foreign military intervention to fight the jihadists.

Former colonial power Portugal deployed a 60-member training mission shortly after jihadists swooped on Palma.

US special ops forces early this month ended a two-month training exercise in tactical skills for Mozambican marines, and a second exercise is slated to kick off in July, according to the American embassy in Maputo.

The SADC Troika comprises past, present and future holders of the bloc's rotating presidency - Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi.

Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa form a troika of past, present and future heads of SADC's Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

As a result the special summit is referred to as a "double troika".

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