Ghana’s president has alleged the government of neighboring Burkina Faso has given Russian mercenaries a mine as payment to help fight an insurgency in their country.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who is in Washington for the US-Africa Leaders Summit, raised the claims at a meeting Wednesday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to a statement from the department.
Akufo-Addo said the mine is near Ghana’s northern border with Burkina Faso, which used the operation to pay for work done by Wagner Group. The entity is a mercenary outfit run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He added that Ghana’s criticism of Russia over its invasion of Ukraine made his country particularly concerned about the Wagner Group’s presence.
“To have them operating on our northern border is particularly distressing for us in Ghana,” he said.
Moscow has denied any links to the group.
Burkina Faso was not invited to the Washington summit. A call and email to the country’s US embassy were not immediately returned.
In nearby Mali, a 1,000-strong mercenary unit, according to US estimates, has been operating since 2021, helping protect the military junta that has been in power there since 2020. Mali’s government has denied the presence of Wagner forces.
Akufo-Addo called on the US to work with the Economic Community of West African States to protect nations in the region from armed groups that threatened democracy.
“It’s important that we bring that matter to your notice and see to what extent we can engage you as a reliable partner in the pushback of those forces,” he said.
Biden on Wednesday was scheduled to meet with the leaders of six African nations facing elections in 2023 — the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Madagascar, and Sierra Leone — to ensure that balloting is free and fair.
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