Regional talks end with no solid plan to quell jihadist violence in Mozambique

The talks had been widely expected to decide on a reported proposal to deploy some 3,000 soldiers to Cabo Delgado, where insurgents have seized control of towns and villages, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The presidents of Mozambique, South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana attend the SADC Extraordinary Double Troika to discuss insecurity in the region on 27 May 2021. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

MAPUTO - A southern African regional summit ended Thursday with no announcement of a concrete plan to tackle the Islamist insurgency ravaging northern Mozambique, according to a closing summit statement.

Presidents from five of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), agreed to meet again within four weeks.

The talks had been widely expected to decide on a reported proposal to deploy some 3,000 soldiers to Cabo Delgado, where insurgents have seized control of towns and villages, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

But in a statement the leaders only said they "noted progress in finding a lasting solution to the terrorism... and considered the proposed regional response," without giving any details.

The leaders agreed to convene an extraordinary summit by 20 June in Mozambique.

The presidents of South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana were hosted in the closed-door talks by President Filipe Nyusi at his official residency in Maputo.

Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan did not attend the meeting but was represented by the Zanzibar leader Hussein Mwinyi.

Jihadist violence has escalated in the gas-rich north of Mozambique since breaking out in late 2017 and there are fears that it could spill over into neighbouring countries.

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

The assault marked an intensification of violence that has driven 700,000 from their homes, and claimed the lives of more than 2,800 people, according to the United Nations.

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

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