The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has a responsibility to aid Mozambique’s fight against terrorism, which is threating its sovereignty and territorial integrity, members of the regional bloc said on Wednesday.
“The SADC cannot afford to have, under its watch, continued heinous atrocities which are characterized by horrific killing of innocent civilians, beheadings, and maiming of women and children, including gender-based violence,” Lemogang Kwape, Botswana’s minister of international affairs, said at the SADC Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting in Mozambique’s capital Maputo.
He called on all members of the 16-country regional bloc to act against the terrorists destabilizing Mozambique.
“As we are aware, the SADC Mutual Defense Pact provides for collective self-defense and collective action,” Kwape said.
“In particular, Article 6 of the pact states that an armed attack against a state party shall be considered a threat to regional peace and security and such an attack shall be met with immediate action.”
Terrorists have wreaked havoc in Mozambique’s resource-rich northern province of Cabo Delgado since late 2017, killing hundreds, displacing entire communities, and capturing several towns.
Last month, an armed group believed to be affiliated with the Daesh/ISIS terror group attacked Palma, a town near the border with Tanzania, killing dozens and injuring scores of others.
French oil giant Total announced earlier this week that it is suspending a $20 billion liquefied natural gas project due to growing insecurity in northern Mozambique.
“The rise in these dreadful attacks raises concern that they are most likely to spread quickly to other provinces in Mozambique and to the entire region,” Kwape warned.
“The sooner the SADC responds collectively, the less likely that these barbaric acts of terrorism will continue to destabilize the region.”