Africa-Press – Mozambique. The secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, has said that it is essential to create “a robust African military force” in Mozambique, while stressing that the UN has peacekeeping rather than peace enforcement forces.
“What we have proposed and supported is the creation of an African force, an African force that may have the support of the United Nations, with a mandate for peace, under Chapter 7 [of the UN Charter], and with funding ensured through the funding mechanisms that the United Nations has for peace operations,” Guterres – a former prime minister of Portugal, said in an interview with the country’s public broadcaster, RTP [You may watch the full RTP interview HERE].
According to Guterres, “the UN does not have peace enforcement, it has peacekeeping forces” that have been acting in some countries where peace is “practically non-existent” due to very serious problems.
Clarifying his proposal for the Sahel region, the UN chief said that an African military force could make sense in Mozambique, recalling that there is already a Rwandan force there and agreements in place with SADC (Southern African Development Community) for forces from countries in that group.
“I believe that it is fundamental that there be a robust African military force in Mozambique, supporting the Mozambican armed forces,” he said. “Should this materialise, I am entirely ready to raise with the United Nations Security Council the need to support that force.”
Reiterating the need for the entire international community to support Mozambique, Guterres stressed that Portugal had “a very important role, by sending a first group of trainers”.
“Mozambique has had extraordinary success with the peace agreement with RENAMO,” he said, referring to the main opposition party, which is disbanding its military wing, before going on to refer to the attacks by radical Islamist rebels in the north of the country. “Things have fortunately evolved very well, but now this terrorist group has appeared, representing a new fashion in Africa which is extremely dangerous. It is [in] the Sahel, it is the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is Somalia, it is Mozambique.”
The attacks by Islamic State are a threat that “cannot be forgotten”,” he stressed. “Today we are talking about Africa, but tomorrow we will be talking about any other part of the world.”
Since July, an offensive by government troops with external support has made it possible to increase security, recovering several areas of Cabo Delgado previously held by rebels, namely the town of Mocímboa da Praia, which had been occupied since August 2020.
The province of Cabo Delgado is rich in natural gas but terrorised by armed rebels, with responsibility for some attacks claimed by the local affiliate of Islamic State.
The conflict has led to more than 3,100 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and displaced more than 817,000 people, according to Mozambican authorities.