Mozambique has lodged an official request for military intervention from neighbouring countries to help quell a jihadist insurgency in the gas-rich north, the defence minister said Thursday.
Southern African countries agreed late last month to deploy forces to Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province, where insurgents have been wreaking havoc since 2017.
The "request for the intervention of SADC in Cabo Delgado has been formally finalised," Mozambique's Defence Minister Jaime Neto told AFP via telephone.
The government had sent a signed "status of forces" agreement to the 16-state Southern African Development Community's secretariat in Botswana's capital on Wednesday.
"The document has already been signed and must have arrived in Gaborone," said the minister.
The pact was formalised a week after east African nation Rwanda announced it was starting to deploy 1 000 troops to northern Mozambique.
The violence has escalated over the past year, offsetting major gas exploration projects and raising fears it could spread to neighbouring countries.
The assault has driven around 800,000 people from their homes, according to the United Nations, and claimed the lives of more than 2 800 people - half of them civilians.