Context: After fighting erupted in Sudan’s capital Khartoum on April 15, questions have been raised over the involvement of the Wagner group, which has been active in African countries for years.
About Wagner Group
- The Wagner group is a Russian paramilitary organisation headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
- Though it has been reportedly engaged in counter-militancy operations in Africa, its involvement is believed to have a more extensive scope covering political, economic and military fields.
- There have also been reports of the group supplying arms and weapons, and training regional forces in fighting jihadist threats.
- Despite its involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war, the Wagner group’s presence in Africa has continued.
- By siding with the domestic actors in a civil war situation, the group’s actions have impacted the democratic process in Africa.
Role of Wagner group
- The Wagner group has been active in Sudan, Mali, the Central African Republic, Mozambique and Libya in Africa.
- The activities are related to providing direct support to authoritarian governments, supporting rival leadership engaged in internal wars, filling the void created by the withdrawal of the French military engagement, taking part in resource exploitation etc.
- The Wagner group presents itself as a security provider to a few governments, mostly authoritarian ones in Africa.
- It has also been supporting rival leaders engaged in a civil war.
- The group’s ties with Sudan aimed at guarding mineral resources, notably gold mines, and therefore, supported Bashir’s government against international opposition.
- It also played a direct role in suppressing the Sudanese uprising in 2019 that toppled Bashir’s regime.
Why does the role of the Wagner group seem to be controversial?
- In Sudan, Russia has recently forged a strong relationship with the Rapid Support Forces (RSP) and its commander, General Mohamed Hamadan Dagalo. The latter is a rival leader fighting against the Sudanese army.
- Russia is set to sign an agreement with Sudan to build a military base in Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
- Hence there is a conflict of interest because Russia has relations with parties involved in the civil war in Sudan