Ghana-Burkina row over Russian Wagner mercenaries intensifies
Burkina Faso on Friday recalled Ghana’s ambassador to protest allegations that Ouagadougou invited Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Group to operate in the country. Meanwhile Wagner accused France of an attack in the Central African Republic.
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo on Wednesday accused neighbouring Burkina of striking a deal to deploy mercenaries from Moscow’s Wagner Group, calling it “particularly distressing”.
The Ghanaian ambassador heard of Burkina’s “disapproval” of the president’s claim that Ouagadougou had struck a deal with the controversial paramilitary outfit, the ministry said.
The claim was “serious and inexact”, a government source told the French press agency AFP, adding that Burkina’s ambassador in Accra had been recalled for consultations.
Akufo-Addo had said “Burkina Faso has now entered into an arrangement to go along with Mali in employing the Wagner forces.
I believe a (mineral) mine in southern Burkina has been allocated to them as a form of payment for their services,” he said during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
To have them operating on our northern border is particularly distressing for us in Ghana.
Blinken had repeated strong US objections to the Wagner Group.
Wherever we’ve seen Wagner deployed, countries find themselves weaker, poorer, more insecure and less independent. That’s the common denominator, Blinken said after an Africa summit in Washington.
Several countries accuse Mali’s ruling junta of using the services of Wagner, which Bamako denies.
Rekindling ties with Russia has also been on the agenda in Burkina since a September coup, the second in eight months, which brought Captain Ibrahim Traore to power facing jihadist attacks that have haunted the country since 2015.
The remarks coincided with the three-day “US-Africa Leadership Summit” that ended on Thursday in Washington DC.
During the summit, US President Joe Biden threw his support behind a larger African role in the world as he also vowed to champion democracy in a continent where China and Russia have enjoyed rising clout.
“The United States is all in on Africa and all in with Africa,” Biden told nearly 50 African leaders who have spent three days in a wintry Washington summit that featured a gala White House dinner.
The summit is the first of its kind since African leaders came in 2014 to see Barack Obama, whose successor Donald Trump made no secret of his lack of interest in Africa.
China for the past decade has eclipsed the United States as an investor, while Russia, with its Wagner Group, attempts to counter US influence in the region as well.
“Sponsor of terrorism”
Meanwhile, the head of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, on Friday urged Moscow to declare France a “sponsor of terrorism” after a parcel bomb wounded a Russian official in the Central African Republic.
I have already requested the Russian foreign ministry to initiate the procedure to declare France a state sponsor of terrorism, Prigozhin was quoted as saying in a statement released by his company, Concord.