Commander of the U.S. Africa Command, General Stephen J. Townsend, has urged African soldiers to stay out of politics and allow democracy to prevail.

Addressing a media briefing after this year’s Chiefs of Defense Conference held in Rome under the theme “Shared Investment for a Shared Future,” General Stephen J. Townsend condemned the emerging trend of unconstitutional military-led changes of government in Africa.

According to him, overthrowing elected leaders can undo decades’ worth of progress on democracy.

“We have observed the Malian junta bring Russian mercenaries into their country. They continue to deny this in public. But my information is pretty clear that they have brought in Wagner. We think they are on the ground in several hundred and expanding to some unknown number, and I have watched this Wagner – this is not the Russian military we’re talking about”

“I have watched this group of actors in Syria. I’ve watched them in Libya. I’ve watched them in Sudan. I’ve watched them in Central African Republic. And I’ve watched them in Mozambique. And they never leave the situation better than they found it. My experience is they will leave it much worse and they will also exploit the country at the expense” General Townsend said on the situation in Mali.

He however noted that, they weren’t the primary partner for Mali, and so maybe there’s a limited impact to the withdrawal of U.S. assistance.

He said these military seizures of power are inconsistent with U.S. democratic values and professional military ethos, hence U.S. military partners must stay out of politics.

According to Townsend, the U.S.A would continue to suspend its security assistance as required by U.S. law to Countries that engage in coups.

“When a military junta overthrows a civilian government, it’s required – and the U.S. determines that that action was a coup, then we’re required to stop all military-to-military security assistance, and we have done so'”. Stephen J Townsend said.

He said the international partners there, are providing support to Mali at no expense to the Government of Mali, but that’s not the case with Wagner. He said Wagner is a bad presence in Mali and wouldn’t contribute to stability and security in Mali in the long run.

On Burkina Faso, he said the U.S. Government is still evaluating what has recently happened.

“I believe that the ECOWAS and the African Union are also evaluating that. We will want to probably judge what African neighbors say about it before the U.S. makes its determinations,” Townsend mentioned.