There has been an enormous concern about the number of coups in the African continent in the last few years. But it appears there is a new concern that seems to link Russia to these coups. Is Russia truly behind the recent coups in Africa?
Critics and observers alike were quick to spot an unusual occurrence after the recent coup in Burkina Faso. The photos and video recordings shared in the media showed youths waving Russian flags in the streets of Ouagadougou.
Although the flags were waved by a few Burkina Faso citizens, it raised speculations and concerns amongst many. It further went on to give credit to the claims by some critics who have fingered the involvement of Russia in the coup that helped Captain Ibrahim Traoré seize power in the landlocked West African country.
Another point that proved that there was Russian involvement in the coup was the actions of Yevgeny Prigozhin. Mr. Prigozhin is an oligarch and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is also the founder of the Wagner Group - a shadowy mercenary organization active in several African countries.
After the announcement of the coup and Captain Ibrahim Traoré as the new leader of the country, Mr. Prigozhin congratulated the young junta leader, calling him a “truly worthy and courageous son of his motherland”.
He also added that “the people of Burkina Faso were under the yoke of the colonialists, who robbed the people as well as played their vile games, trained, supported gangs of bandits and caused much grief to the local population.”
By “colonialists”, Yevgeny Prigozhin was referring to France, and many observers believe that Russia was the superpower that supported Captain Ibrahim Traoré to fight against the ousted regime, which was backed by France.
You will recall that France has been a major ally of Burkina Faso and other African countries along the Sahel within the last decade, especially in their fight against al-Qaeda-linked jihadist militants.
However, France recently withdrew its armies from Mali after a disagreement with the military junta in the country. The reason for the disagreement was a result of Mali’s increasing diplomatic ties with Russia, which the African country facilitated to boost its fight against the militants.
When speaking about the coup, Sergei Markov, a former top Kremlin adviser, did not mince words when he analyzed the coup, “our people helped the new leader [of Burkina Faso].
“Another African country will move from co-operation with France to an alliance with Russia,” he said.
“In previous coups Russia has tried to position itself as an accidental beneficiary of regime changes,” says Dr. Ramanai from the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), a defense and security think-tank and author of Russia in Africa.
“This time around Russia is a lot more proactive in support for the coup, and that has led to speculation that Russia has played a coordinating role.”
What are your thoughts?
Quote Credit: BBC