President Yoweri Museveni has hinted at the possibility of deploying a large Ugandan force and troops to deal with the insurgency in the troubled Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique if the security problem is not resolved soon.
In a joint media briefing with Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, who was on a three-day visit to Uganda starting April 27, President Museveni said a larger regional force would be mobilised because East Africa cannot afford to have a security problem close to its borders.
Uganda has been contributing military equipment since 2017 to support the Mozambican forces battling a group of jihadist terrorists in the northern part of the country.
“If the Cabo Delgado security problem is not solved, we will have to mobilise more and contribute even manpower,” President Museveni said.
“To have a group destabilising Nyasa, Cabo Delgado; that’s not acceptable. East Africa will have to do something like we have done in Congo now.”
President Museveni said Uganda will send an unspecified number of troops to Mozambique’s Montpeuze city to guard agriculture and wildlife projects that were started in 2018 and that continues to be supported by his government.
“I am told the problem is being solved, but if it is not solved for some reason — and we have quietened Congo — then we shall have to deploy a big force there. Like we have deployed in Congo: a big force that can make impact. Materiel for now, but manpower, if necessary. In big numbers, not symbolism,” he said.
President Nyusi said the Ugandan leader, who has a historical link with the former Portuguese colony where he started his military career with guerrilla war training in Montpeuze in the 1970s, “was one of the first presidents that I briefed on situation in Mozambique on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis.”
Apparently, Uganda volunteered to support the efforts of the Mozambican troops and has since been quietly sending materiel and other logistical support to veterans to defend the troubled area, where TotalEnegries was in April 2021 forced to abandon its $20 billion natural gas project after a jihadist attack on a nearby town in March.
“Uganda is already supporting Mozambique in a profound manner, logistically,” said President Nyusi.
“Those veterans are well-known to President Museveni; he knows them and he’s supporting them directly and they are the ones engaged in defending the country successfully, and his support is important,” he added.
In July 2021, Rwanda sent a 1,000-strong contingent to Cabo Delgado at the request of Mozambique.