Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi today called on the Armed Forces of Defence of Mozambique (FADM) to exercise “increased vigilance” in defending natural gas projects in the country’s northern Cabo Delgado province, and adding that restoring peace was an “immediate challenge”.
Speaking at the inauguration of new Chief of the General Staff of the FADM, Eugénio Mussa, and of Deputy Chief Bartolino Capitine, President Nyusi stressed that one of the challenges of the military is “to defend with vigour all the infrastructure and the economic projects in progress, or to be developed, throughout the national territory, looking with particular attention at those which occur in the Afungi peninsula”.
The Afungi peninsula, in Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique, is home to the largest private investment project – for the exploitation of natural gas – on the African continent.
The Mozambican president described the armed groups carrying out attacks in the province as “terrorists”, saying that armed violence in the region is part of a strategy of plundering the country’s natural resources.
“African natural resources have been subject to systematic plunder, and with Mozambique being part of this continent, today it is plunged into terrorist attacks with the same objective – of plundering national wealth,” Filipe Nyusi stressed.
The natural resources that were supposed to be a lifeline for the continent are now a curse, he continued.
The Mozambican president went on to say that the armed attacks carried out by the Junta Militar, an armed splinter group of the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), the country’s main opposition party, was another challenge for the new leadership of the FADM.
The armed attacks of the Military Junta “are among those threats to which we must continue to respond with increasing force and combative effectiveness”, he said.
The new chief and the deputy chief of the General Staff, he continued, must ensure the creation of the logistical conditions necessary for effective FADM operations in combating armed violence in the north and centre of the country.
Eugénio Mussá replaces Lázaro Menete and Bertolino Capitine replaces Raúl Dique, who left the positions of chief and deputy chief of the General Staff just over three years after taking office.
On Monday, the CEO of French oil company Total and the Mozambican president agreed on a new reinforcement of security around the natural gas venture in Cabo Delgado, a source close to the government told Lusa.
The rebel groups that have terrorized the northern province of Mozambique for three years increased their attacks in 2020, and have been approaching the Total-led construction site, leading to a slowing down of the project and the departure of some personnel at the end of last year.
“Total and the government are in tune: what will happen is a reinforcement of security measures,” the president said, without, however, detailing exactly what reinforcement would take place.
According to the head of state, the project will keep to scheduled deadlines, with the beginning of production in 2024.
The Afungi project is the largest private investment underway in Africa, valued at between €20 and 25 billion, and is one of Mozambique’s principal hopes for development in the coming decades.
Yesterday, a European Union mission led by Portugal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, arrived in the country, at a time when several countries have offered direct assistance in combating the Cabo Delgado ‘jihadists’.
Armed violence in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, is causing a humanitarian crisis, with around 2,000 deaths and 560,000 people displaced, without adequate housing or food, mainly to the area surrounding the provincial capital, Pemba.
Some of the armed attacks have, since 2019, been claimed by the ‘Islamic State’ jihadist group, but the true origins of, and inspiration for, the insurgency remain a matter of debate.