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Rwanda has rattled South Africa and other southern African governments by beating them to the battlefield against Islamist insurgents in Mozambique.

A standby force from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is meant to start deploying in Mozambique’s violent Cabo Delgado province this Thursday, July 15. But as of Friday, 9 July Mozambique had still not given official clearance for the deployment.

While Mozambique stalled in signing the necessary “Status of Forces” agreement with SADC, a contingent of 1,000 Rwandan soldiers and police officers began deploying into Cabo Delgado on Friday.

SADC’s deployment also seems to have been complicated by a dispute within SADC about which country should lead the SADC standby force. It was originally supposed to be South Africa, but this now seems to be in doubt.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the SABC on Saturday that it was “unfortunate” that Rwanda had deployed its troops into Mozambique before SADC because it was expected that Rwanda would have gone in under a SADC mandate. She added that SADC did not have any control over the timing of the Rwandan deployment as this had been agreed between Rwanda and Mozambique.

She said that the SADC military experts who planned…

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