AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - 360° policy: Russian mercenaries, Rwandan soldiers and perhaps American "contractors"

Tuesday, 23 January 2024

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - "President Faustin-Archange Touadera is implementing a 360° policy so as not to tie himself too closely to an international actor", a local source from the Central African Republic tells Fides. "There is a lot of talk about the intervention of the Russians from the private military company Wagner, but Rwandan soldiers are also present, both as components of MINUSCA (UN Mission in the Central African Republic) and as a separate contingent ", says Fides source who, for security reasons, does not wish to be cited.
These forces will eventually be joined by the American military company Bancroft Global Development, which officially describes itself as "a non-profit security company", registered in the United States as a charitable organization, but which receives most of its funding of the Department of State in Washington. Working mainly in Africa, and particularly in Somalia, Bancroft provides assistance and training to local security forces. The American company could provide training, particularly in the handling of drones, for a Central African unit capable of controlling the country's borders and ensuring the protection of mining concessions. Many commentators see the possible arrival of the American company as an attempt by the American government to oust the Russian company Wagner from its Central African stronghold, where it has been based since 2018. In addition to ensuring the president's close security, Wagner is supposed to help the Central African armed forces regain control of the territory by fighting the various armed groups still present in the Central African Republic. In reality, Russian mercenaries are accused by the population of committing violence against civilians, as evidenced by a testimony sent to Fides from a resident of Bossali, in the west of the country. According to this testimony, on January 11, Wagner's men looted the houses of the village, forcing its inhabitants to take refuge in the forest for a week. The mercenaries then headed towards the local gold mine, killing three people along the way.
"Wagner exploits gold mines and other things in the country without much concern for the environmental consequences or the rights of local populations," says our source. The Rwandans are also present, not only militarily, but also with a large business community, but at least their soldiers are the most effective among MINUSCA peacekeepers. As for the arrival of the Americans, the source concludes, there is talk about it but at the moment there is nothing certain". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 23/1/2024)