The recourse of certain African States to a paramilitary group like the Russian Wagner is "not reprehensible in principle" unless its mission is not "purely security", estimated Sunday the President of Benin, Patrice Talon, on the French channel LCI.
"The notion of using a private military service provider is not new. We saw it in Afghanistan" with the Americans, he declared during an interview, judging that "this principle is not condemnable".
On the other hand, "if Wagner intervenes and not to provide a pure security service, and that it must serve as a regime for abuses, it is reprehensible and it must be condemned", he said.
Wagner, a paramilitary group founded in 2014, established itself in the Central African Republic at the invitation of President Faustin Archange Touadéra to put down a rebellion. According to France, its mercenaries were also recruited by the junta in power in Mali, although Bamako denies this, initially pushing the French soldiers who were fighting against the jihadists in this country.
The United States, which has been trying for several years to thwart Russian influence in Africa, accuses the Wagner group of "committing human rights violations and extorting natural resources in Africa".
The group has also established itself as a major player in the conflict in Ukraine.
"This war is unfortunate," commented the Beninese president. "Russia is an old friend of Benin, but it is not because we are friends that we should refrain from condemning what Russia is doing in Ukraine", he added.
"Is the cause just? It's not the debate", he continued, but "if we trivialize this fact, it would be a way of promoting the use of force to resolve conflicts. International".
Invited to comment on French President Emmanuel Macron's desire to reinvent relations between the former colonial power and African countries, Mr. Talon considered that "there are still many fantasies" in African public opinion and that "the President Macron's current tour (in Africa, editor's note) is good because it clarifies things a bit".
"France needs to show more of its sense of equality with African countries," he argued.
Asked about the powerful ties between China and the African continent, Mr Talon assured that "China (l) inspires a lot, effort on oneself, good governance".
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