from RUDD KONTE in Bamako, Mali
BAMAKO, (CAJ News) – THE deployment of mercenary troops in Mali is feared to deteriorate the security situation in West Africa, aggravate the human rights situation in Mali and hamper international efforts to ensure the protection of civilians.
It is believed the Wagner group, said to be backed by Russia, have been deployed to replace French troops.
A number of European countries, under the international partners condemned the deployment.
The countries are Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and United Kingdom.
“We deeply regret the choice of the Malian transitional authorities to use already scarce public funds to pay foreign mercenaries instead of supporting the Malian Armed Forces and public services to the benefit of the Malian people.”
The countries in the joint statement said they were aware of the involvement of the Russian Federation government in providing material support to the deployment of the Wagner group in Mali.
They called on Russia to revert to a “responsible and constructive behavior” in the region.
A fortnight ago, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) raised concern about the risk of instability for the region should private security companies deploy in Mali.
In May this year, ECOWAS suspended Mali over a second coup in nine months.
Earlier this month, the European Union (EU) imposed some restrictive measures against the Wagner group and against eight associated individuals and three entities connected to it.
Mali is the epicentre of a jihadist insurgency that began in the north of the country in 2012.
It has spread to Burkina Faso and Niger.
West Africa is also affected by Islamist groups including the Nigerian Boko Haram.
– CAJ News