- SADC leaders have endorsed the deployment of a Standby Force.
- The moves signals some progress in deliberations on how to handle the conflict in Mozambique.
- It is not clear when the force will be mobilised and how many troops will be called up.
Southern African leaders on Wednesday approved the deployment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Standby Force to Mozambique.
It is a move that demonstrated regional progress in addressing the crisis.
The deployment was approved at an extraordinary summit, held in Maputo, and attended by all 16 member states, including President Cyril Ramaphosa.
South Africa has repeatedly expressed the need for greater intervention in the region, even as Mozambique seemed resistant.
The deployment followed two extraordinary summits held earlier this year, and could bring some finality to the back-and-forth deliberations on how to respond to the growing regional crisis.
In a communique issued at the end of summit, the meeting said it had endorsed the deployment of the force "in support of Mozambique to combat of [sic] terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado".
Mozambique will also welcome a SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre in Nacala, a port town 400 kilometres south of Pemba, the main city in Cabo Delgado, which is home to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons.
No further details were given on the exact mandate of the Standby Force.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi previously asserted his country's sovereignty and its right to lead any regional intervention.
It is also not yet clear when the force will deploy and how it will bolster Mozambican police and military already in the region.
The SADC Standby Force acts as the region's peacekeeping force and falls under the SADC's Organ of Politics Defence and Security.
It is constituted when necessary, and the crisis it is responding to will determine the size of the force.
The approval follows an earlier report recommending intervention in Mozambique's northern province, Cabo Delgado. That report, published internally after a technical team visited the region in April, called for a deployment of 3 000 personnel, including 2 000 ground troops to support the Mozambican military.
Since 2017, an insurgent group has killed 2 800 people and displaced 800 000.
Mozambique had initially dismissed the violence as banditry, but an attack in the gas hub of Palma invited international attention as foreigners were targeted.