The US ambassador to Ghana, Virginia Palmer says the presence of the Wagner force, a proxy for the Russian State in Ghana’s neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso, is a danger to security in the West Africa Sub region.
She has therefore urged security institutions to be wary of the mercenary group.
Mrs Palmer issued the note of caution in an interview on Foreign Affairs on JoyNews.
President Akufo Addo who is attending the US- Africa Summit in Washington stirred controversy this week when he claimed that Burkina Faso’s government has given a gold mine closer to Ghana’s Borders to the Russian group.
The President believes that this development threatens Ghana’s democracy. The President thus called for partnership from the United States government which he termed “reliable partner”, to ward off the Wagner forces.
When asked by host of Foreign Affairs, Blessed Sogah whether or not there is growing insurgency in West Africa, Mrs. Palmer stressed that the presence of the Wagner force does not bode well in terms of security.
“You’re being more diplomatic than I will be. I will be direct. I think the Wagner is acting as a proxy for the Russian state, and I think that’s dangerous for democracy and peace and security in the sub region and beyond, frankly. I guess I’ll leave it at that. That’s not a question of competition or a Cold War. It’s a question of a non-state actor acting on behalf of a foreign government and not really, I don’t think, having the interest of those countries at heart. There’s a lot of exploitation of mineral resources and other things involved,” she explained.
The ambassador commended government for recognising the threat posed by the mercenary group and asking for support to stop them in their tracks.
“I also want to salute Ghana for acknowledging that it isn’t only a kinetic fight. In order to really have good security for communities at risk, particularly those communities on the border, there is the need to feel that the state is protecting them. So the security forces, the Ghana armed forces and the Police who are respected, need to ensure that they honor the human rights of the people that they’re protecting. So the professionalization of those services is incredibly important,” she said.
Mrs. Palmer noted that under the circumstances, government must provide the needs of the residents of the border communities to dissuade them from accepting favours from mercenaries.
The other thing that’s very important is inclusive economic growth so that communities in the north and on the border know that they’re part of Ghana, know that the Ghanaian state cares about their wellbeing, that there are health services and security services, education services provided for them, so that if violent extremists come in and say, Oh, you’re poor, I’ll take care of that. They say, well, no thanks, I don’t need that help because mother Ghana addresses that for me,” Mrs. Palmer stated.
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