Blinken pitches US to ‘replace’ Wagner in bid to boost security and support democracy in West Africa

The US top diplomat, on a four-nation tour around Africa this week, is pitching the United States as a better security partner for the continent in place of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group and pledged an additional $45 million to West African nations as part of a plan to boost security.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is visiting Nigeria as part of an Africa tour to strengthen bilateral relations and rally African democracies as crises engulf the region, has accused Russia’s Wagner Group of exploiting coup-hit and conflict-hit nations turning to it for help in the continent’s Sahel region. He also pledged to continue to support Nigeria and other regional partners in their efforts to help stabilize the Sahel that Islamic extremist groups have turned into a global terror hot spot.

“We hope it can make a difference in restoring the constitutional order and restoring a critical partner in trying to find security in the region,” Blinken said in Nigerian capital, Abuja.

In Mali and most recently Niger where Wagner is offering security support to the junta regimes, “what we’ve seen is actually a problem (of insecurity) getting manifestly worse and worse,” Blinken said. “You see the exploitation of people and resources by Wagner … Having said that, it’s important that we’ve been working to support our partners who are trying to find effective ways of fighting insecurity,” he added.

Earlier, during a visit to Côte d’Ivoire on Tuesday (23 January), Blinken praised the country for choosing a less militarized approach to security. The US top diplomat also said the US would provide an additional $45m to West African nations as part of a plan to battle instability, bringing total funding under the year-old program to nearly $300m.

 

About Geraldine Boechat 2761 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia