The Portuguese and Mozambican defence ministers are to sign signed the 2021-2026 Defence Cooperation Framework Programme between the two countries on Monday, which provides for the training of Mozambique’s special forces by Portuguese soldiers.
The Portuguese ministry of defence said on Friday that the minister of defence, João Gomes Cravinho, will receive his counterpart from Mozambique, Jaime Bessa Augusto Neto, on 10 May, for a bilateral working meeting, “to sign the Framework Programme of Cooperation in the Field of Defence 2021-2026, between Portugal and Mozambique.
At the end of March, Cravinho told Lusa that the programme advocates a “multifaceted response” to the situation in that country, and, as well as the training and education of special forces, marines and commandos, includes other lines of military cooperation in the area of training, namely the “ground-to-air components” and intelligence.
“And I also believe that there is much to gain from working with drones, which offer an intelligence-gathering capability that can be valuable. And at the intelligence level is another area that will be worked on,” the Portuguese minister added at the time.
The defence minister stressed that the mission being prepared is not a deployed national force but rather cooperation between two sovereign countries with close and brotherly relations.
Regarding the current situation in Mozambique, Cravinho said that what is happening in Cabo Delgado “requires a multifaceted approach and cannot be resolved overnight, but over a period of a couple of years, starting with the security situation because this is the basis for any development, and provide humanitarian aid to the affected populations,” he said.
Portugal’s contribution to the training and capacity building of the Mozambican forces provides for the training of “successive companies” of the armed forces, in three to four months, over three years, which represents a “tripling” of Portuguese investment in cooperation projects with that country, which has existed since 1988.
In terms of work locations, it is planned that the Portuguese troops will be in the south of the country, in Catembe, near Maputo (marines) and the centre (commandos), Cravinho said. In mid-April, two advance teams were sent to Mozambique to begin training activities in the field.
Armed groups have terrorised Cabo Delgado since 2017, with some attacks claimed by the ‘jihadist’ group Islamic State, in a wave of violence that has led to over 2,500 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and 714,000 displaced people, according to the Mozambican government.
The most recent attack occurred on 24 March against the town of Palma, causing dozens of deaths and injuries in a still ongoing assessment.
The Mozambican authorities regained control of the town, but the attack led oil company Total to abandon indefinitely the site of the gas project scheduled to start production in 2024 and on which many of Mozambique’s economic growth expectations for the next decade are anchored.