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Mozambique Legalizes Local Militias to Fight Insurgents

Voice of America

As the fight against violent extremists in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province continues with a regional military force, the country has authorized the creation of local militias to help.

The government in Maputo approved the decree on April 5, 2023, after having secured parliamentary approval for the move in November 2022. The Defense Ministry admitted that the Mozambican Army alone could not deal with the militants.

Mozambique has been fighting militants linked to the Islamic State group in Cabo Delgado since 2017.

The local self-defense militias already help the Mozambican armed forces and military contingents from Rwanda and some Southern African Development Community countries in the fight in oil-rich Cabo Delgado.

Cabinet spokesman Filimao Suazi said the local militia will be formalized to strengthen the effort to counter and contain the spread of militant incursions, and protect community settlements and infrastructure. He added that the decree will allow for better structure, organization and logistical support for local self-defense militias.

Suazi said the decree establishes the local force and the respective statute, and defines the concept of the local force, its activation and deactivation, composition, forms of acquisition, and rights and duties.

This force mostly is composed of ex-combatants and civilians who, since 2020, have supported the fight in Cabo Delgado.

In five years, the conflict in Cabo Delgado has caused close to 5,000 deaths, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. It also has displaced more than 1 million people, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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