The chair of the European Union (EU) Defence and Security Sub-Commission Nathalie Loiseau told reporters in Maputo on Tuesday that the Mozambican authorities have requested lethal weapons to fight the Islamic State-sponsored insurgency in Cabo Delgado province and this request will be considered in Brussels.
The lethal weapons and ammunition would come on top of the €89 million worth of non-lethal aid already approved by the EU for the Mozambican armed forces, and €15m in financial assistance recently approved for SAMIM, the military mission sent by members of the Southern Africa Development Community.
Loiseau led a delegation of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on a two-day visit to Mozambique where they met with Mozambican defence minister Cristovão Chume, the President of the Assembly of the Republic and members of the parliamentary commission on defence, security and public order. The delegation also visited Chimoio in Manica province to observe the European Union Training Mission in Mozambique (EUTM-Moz), which is training its first cohort of Mozambican troops for combat in Cabo Delgado.
Speaking at a press conference at the conclusion of the trip, Loiseau said “the Mozambican authorities are requesting lethal weapons. This is something we have to consider at least for the training.”
“We will discuss it in Brussels but it was important for me to hear the request from the authorities and also see the reality on the ground,” she continued.
But Isabel Santos, a socialist MEP from Portugal who was part of the delegation but who is not on the sub-commission, told Zitamar that providing lethal weapons was “not [the EU’s] tradition and it’s not on our horizons for now.” Arming Ukraine, Santos said, was an exceptional case and any decision relating to the provision of lethal aid in Mozambique would have to be subject to consultation with EU member states.
For now, Loiseau explained, the priority is speeding up the provision of non-lethal equipment, such as boots, helmets and vehicles. She said she is also in favour of discussing support for the Rwandan military mission in Mozambique, “because I think for the moment it is still needed.”
Mozambique previously requested a much larger support package for its military response to the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, which was refused in Brussels, Zitamar understands.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, visited Maputo earlier this month to announce €15m in financial assistance for SAMIM. He also said he expected the EU to approve €20m to support the Rwandan mission.