Thursday, May 30, 2024

What’s the future of Wagner in Africa with Prigozhin confirmed dead?

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

Major discussions have been triggered in Africa following news of the boss of the Russian mercenary group, Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin been confirmed dead.

Prigozhin was confirmed dead after genetic analysis of bodies found in last week’s plane crash.

The Investigative Committee (SK) said the identities of all 10 victims had been established and corresponded to those on the flight’s passenger list.

Prigozhin’s private jet came down north-west of Moscow last Wednesday, killing all those on board.

“Molecular-genetic testing has been completed,” the committee said in a statement.

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“According to its results, the identities of all 10 deceased have been established, and they correspond to the list published in the flight manifest.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin last Thursday expressed his “condolences” over the plane crash describing Prigozhin as a man who made mistakes but “achieved results”.

“First of all I want to express words of sincere condolences to the families of all the victims,” Putin said in a televised meeting, calling the incident a “tragedy”.

“I knew Prigozhin for a very long time, since the early 90s. He was a man of complicated fate, and he made serious mistakes in his life, but he achieved the right results,” Putin added.

He said an investigation was to take place with results expected to be made public.

“It [investigation] will be conducted in full and brought to a conclusion. There is no doubt about that,” Putin said.

The circumstances of the crash, though has sparked speculations of possible assassination. But the absence of Prigozhin could impact the operations of the Wagner group in Africa.

Wagner forces in recent years have been deployed in Libya, Sudan, Mozambique, Madagascar, Central African Republic, and Mali.

The primary focus is to protect critical state infrastructures and government officials from all forms of attacks including those from militants or rebels.

In July Russia’s Prigozhin told an African news outlet in an audio interview that the group is ready to increase its presence in Africa.

“We aren’t reducing (our presence), moreover we’re ready to increase our various contingents,” Prigozhin told Cameroon-based Afrique Media before his presumed death.

Wagner’s role in African countries like CAR and Mali have been criticized by the Western governments, including France and the United States.

Washington has accused the group of committing widespread atrocities and went ahead to imposed sanctions on it.Prigozhin has always denied those accusations.

Some of the countries including Mali and Burkina Faso have always denied official links to the Russian group though.

But before he was presumed dead, Prigozhin appeared in a video that was posted on Telegram, suggesting he was in Africa when it was recorded.

He had visited Africa in a bid to widen the group’s operations and even supported the coup that took place in Niger.

According to him new Wagner fighters were being recruited for deployment to Africa so his group could make the continent freer.

The presence of Wagner contractors in Africa since 2018 in countries like Central African Republic has helped to rebuild it’s military and to some extent secured the capital Bangui.

Mali didn’t look elsewhere than Russia to stop the militant insurgency there and hurriedly forced French forces out.

With Prigozhin’s death, the group’s future in Africa will come under scrutiny as countries that relied on it for security could run into some crisis.

Only a stable leadership within the group to take over from Prigozhin could guarantee a continued presence in countries they operate in.

But for some analysts, Wagner has become a key tool for Moscow in advancing its foreign policy objectives, even though Putin has always denied direct link.

The coming months after Prigozhin’s death would be crucial for countries Wagner operates in.

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