The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has threatened to hold Russia accountable in the event that the Wagner Group, an Eastern European country’s private military contractor, breaches human rights during the Niger coup,
In a live interview with Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, mentioned that another West African country had a different agreement with the security company.
“The Wagner Group, apparently, is in Mali today. The Malian government says this is an agreement between them and the Russian Federation,” Musah said.
“We want to take them by their word, which means any sort of action that infringes on human rights or yeah, or devastation in our region by these private military contractors, we are going to hold the other countries of our region responsible for that.”
Asked if he meant Russia, the ECOWAS official stressed, “That’s Russia — (we will hold them) responsible, diplomatically. The West African region is just not Russia.”
Musah stated that private military companies had been a feature of the African conflict scene for years.
“Private military companies were involved in Sierra Leone. They were involved in Liberia during those civil wars, long ago. And even recently in the global conflict, there has been the use of private military companies,” he said.
“The Americans are using them in Iraq; in Afghanistan, they use them, and others. What we are seeing is that these groups are not acceptable in Africa, even though they are there and we are going to hold their countries of origin responsible for any violations.”
The ECOWAS commissioner also emphasised the current presence of Western forces in Niger, including France and the European Union (EU), and added that there had also been an influx of Middle Eastern countries like Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, as well as countries from the East like Russia and China.
“What we are saying is that we are not going to allow West Africa to be an arena of proxy wars again. And that is our attitude to Wagner. It is not our option,” he said.
“We do not want private military companies interfering in the conflict environment in the region because we know the consequences of their action.”
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