Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo has accused his country’s neighbour Burkina Faso of inviting in mercenaries from Russian firm Wagner, calling the deployment “particularly distressing”.
“Burkina Faso has now entered into an arrangement to go along with Mali in employing the Wagner forces there,” Akufo-Addo said on Wednesday in remarks that Burkina Faso had not responded to by Thursday.
“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.”
Burkina government spokesperson Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo told the AFP news agency that “we have no reaction”.
“I’ll leave him to take responsibility for what he said,” Ouedraogo said.
For six years, Burkina Faso has been struggling to stem militant violence that has killed thousands, displaced nearly two million people and made swaths of land inaccessible.
Lack of faith in the Burkina Faso government’s ability to contain the militant insurgency has led to two coups this year.
Burkina Faso for diversifying ties
In several French-speaking African countries, Moscow has been actively courting public opinion on social media and enjoys growing popular support as France, the former colonial power, is increasingly reviled.
Blinken, asked about the accusations by Ghana on Burkina Faso, repeated the 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 told a news conference as he closed a three-day Africa summit in Washington.
“What I heard in conversations this week, as I’ve heard in the past, is our partners in Africa tell us that they do not want their resources exploited, they don’t want the human rights of their people abused, they don’t want their governance undermined, and ultimately, as a result, they really don’t want Wagner.”
Several countries accuse Mali’s ruling junta of using the services of Wagner, which is reputedly close to the Moscow, which Bamako denies.
Rekindling ties with Russia has also been on the agenda in Burkina Faso since a coup on September 30.
Prime Minister of Burkina Faso Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela said previously that he did not rule out reviewing his country’s relations with Russia.
“We will try, as much as possible, to diversify our relations with partners until we find the right formula for Burkina Faso’s interests,” he said.