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Rwandan troops cannot stay in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado forever, Kagame says

(Updates dateline, adds detail)

By Baz Ratner and Shafiek Tassiem

PEMBA, Mozambique Sept 25 (Reuters) – Rwandan President Paul Kagame said the country cannot stay forever in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, where allied Rwandan and Mozambican troops have been recapturing areas from Islamist militants since July.

“As much as we cannot be here forever, I think the problem we are dealing with, with our friends in Mozambique, cannot stay here forever too,” Kagame said at a news conference with Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi in Pemba, Cabo Delgado’s capital city, on Saturday.

“Every time, every step, we are assessing what needs to be done… The need to stay and for how long, that comes out naturally as progress is made.”

Asked who had invited Rwandan troops in to help quell the insurgency, Nyusi said it was Mozambique.

Rwandan troops arrived in July on a mission that was initially meant to last three months, but on Friday Kagame said it would be up to Mozambique to determine how long Rwandan troops should stay.

Kagame also called for more support from other countries.

The insurgency, gaining in strength since 2017, has caused almost 750,000 people to be internally displaced and brought to a halt a $20 billion liquefied natural gas project led by TotalEnergies.

As well as the Rwandans, a contingent of forces from regional bloc the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is also patrolling northern Cabo Delgado.

Supporters who gathered on Saturday at a stadium in Pemba for a military parade held flags bearing a picture of Nyusi on one side and Kagame on the other. (Reporting by Baz Ratner and Shafiek Tassiem Writing by Helen Reid Editing by Jason Neely, Clelia Oziel and Frances Kerry)

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