The leaders of Mozambique and Tanzania met Friday to discuss the Islamist insurgency that Maputo has called in regional forces to help suppress.
The fighting in northern Mozambique has occasionally spilled across the border with Tanzania, which has deployed troops in the country under the umbrella of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“Tanzania has always been on our side, has always offered to help Mozambique within the scope of SAMIM,” Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said, referring to the SADC mission.
“In our talks, we looked at how our cooperating is evolving, because we are two countries and we have a common problem,” he said in remarks broadcast on national radio.
Nyusi met with Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan in the northern town of Pemba, the provincial capital of Cabo Delgado, which SADC and Rwandan forces helped Mozambique reclaim from the insurgents in August. Neither leader revealed much of the substance of their talks, but Nyusi signalled that he wanted continued support from the region.
“The terrorists cross the common border between Mozambique and Tanzania,” he said.
“We are interested in a more dedicated approach to the problem.”
“We have seen that the enemy is improving its techniques. We want to study how our forces can deal with the enemy, with terrorism. We will soon improve our combat forces,” he added.
Hassan said that she came “to reaffirm our commitment to Mozambique.”
“Tanzania is here to work together with Mozambique in our developmental and our peace and security affairs.”
The unrest erupted in 2017, leaving at least 3,500 dead and around 820,000 homeless. The insurgents’ brutal tactics, including beheadings, mass abductions, and the torching of homes, rattled the region. International energy companies stopped their multi-billion-dollar natural gas projects in Cabo Delgado and evacuated their staff.
Cabo Delgado is home to the largest-ever foreign investment in Africa: a $20-billion development by France’s Total. But residents in the mostly Muslim province have yet to see many tangible benefits from the investments, which they feel flow to the government of the largely Christian country.
Hassan is trying to jump-start Tanzania’s own natural gas project, estimated at $30 billion. As in Mozambique, the scheme would involve building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near vast offshore gas deposits.