In a resolute stance, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has issued a stern warning to Russia concerning the activities of the Wagner Group, a private military contractor with ties to the Eastern European nation. Amidst the aftermath of the recent Niger coup, ECOWAS has asserted its commitment to ensuring accountability if the Wagner Group violates human rights within the region.
Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, emphasized the need for responsibility in a live appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily. Addressing concerns about the Wagner Group’s presence in Mali, Musah acknowledged the bilateral arrangement between the private military contractor and the Malian government. He emphasized that ECOWAS would vigilantly monitor any actions by the Wagner Group that result in human rights infringements or regional devastation.
“We want to take them by their word, which means any sort of action that infringes on human rights or devastation in our region by these private military contractors, we are going to hold the other countries of our region responsible for that,” Ambassador Musah asserted. When asked if this responsibility extended to Russia, he confirmed, “That’s Russia — (we will hold them) responsible, diplomatically. The West African region is just not Russia.”
The ECOWAS official also drew attention to the historical presence of private military companies in African conflict zones, citing examples from Sierra Leone and Liberia’s civil wars. Ambassador Musah noted the global trend of using such entities in conflict situations, mentioning their deployment by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“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. “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.”
Highlighting the current involvement of Western forces and Middle Eastern nations in Niger, Ambassador Musah stressed ECOWAS’s unwavering stance against allowing West Africa to become a battleground for proxy wars. The Commissioner firmly conveyed ECOWAS’s opposition to private military companies interfering in regional conflicts, citing the potential consequences of their actions.
“We do not want private military companies interfering in the conflict environment in the region because we know the consequences of their action,” he asserted. The ECOWAS Commissioner underscored the importance of preserving stability and safeguarding human rights in the region.
The West African bloc’s stance serves as a strong message to Russia and the international community, signaling ECOWAS’s commitment to ensuring accountability and peace in the wake of the Niger coup. As tensions remain high and concerns over potential violations of human rights persist, ECOWAS’s vigilance underscores the importance of responsible actions by all parties involved.
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