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Peace talks: a road to nowhere

While military force alone may not end the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, the conditions for negotiations do not yet exist

Sheikh Aminudin Muhamad, pictured, is one of the public faces of the peace initiative. (Credit: Facebook/Gabinete Juvenil do Conselho Islâmico de Moçambique)

Good afternoon. Today brings news that the efforts to start a dialogue with the Islamic State-backed insurgents in Cabo Delgado province are continuing, although as we noted back in November, there is not much cause for optimism. There is no evidence that either the leaders of the insurgency or the Mozambican government have any real interest in peace talks. The insurgents only last week seem to have finished a campaign of violence timed to fit in with the Islamic State’s declared global campaign of “kill them wherever you find them”. The government, meanwhile, seems to be focused squarely on attacking the insurgents — although its most effective weapon against them, the Rwandan military contingent in Cabo Delgado, has moved its attention away from offensive operations and towards defence recently. While ministers may say that they are happy for peace talks to go ahead, they do not appear to believe in them.

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The fact that the commission set up to promote this dialogue initiative is still trying to find out who is leading the operational and ideological aspects of the insurgency highlights how challenging it is to even get the machinery of dialogue up and running, never mind to get results from it. With the killing of Bonomade Machude Omar, also known as Ibn Omar, last year, there has not been any identifiable leader of the insurgency who could be contacted. Even if one is found within Mozambique, this will not deal with the forces outside Mozambique, in the senior leadership of Islamic State and among extremist leaders in southern Africa, who exert influence on the insurgency.

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