In the ongoing struggle against violent extremists in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, the government has sanctioned the formation of local militias to assist the regional military force. The approval for this initiative was granted by the Maputo government on April 5, 2023, following parliamentary endorsement in November 2022. Recognizing the inadequacy of the Mozambican Army alone in addressing the militant threat, the Defense Ministry took this step.
Since 2017, Mozambique has been combatting militants affiliated with the Islamic State group in Cabo Delgado. The newly authorized local self-defense militias are already collaborating with the Mozambican armed forces, as well as military units from Rwanda and select Southern African Development Community countries, in the oil-rich Cabo Delgado region.
According to Cabinet spokesman Filimao Suazi, the formalization of these local militias aims to enhance the overall strategy against militant incursions, safeguard community settlements, and protect vital infrastructure. The decree is expected to provide a more organized structure, improved logistical support, and better coordination for the local self-defense militias.
Suazi outlined that the decree defines the local force and its respective statute, detailing its activation and deactivation processes, composition, means of acquisition, as well as rights and duties. The composition of this force primarily includes ex-combatants and civilians who have been actively supporting the fight in Cabo Delgado since 2020.
Over the past five years, the conflict in Cabo Delgado has resulted in nearly 5,000 deaths, as reported by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Additionally, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees notes that the conflict has displaced over 1 million people.
Voice of America