Central African Republic, Wagner mercenaries arrived to ‘control’ referendum

This was communicated by the local ‘branch’ of the Russian group on Telegram, explaining that “a flight of instructors has arrived” in Bangui

Hundreds of Wagner mercenaries have arrived in the Central African Republic to ‘monitor’ the security of the constitutional referendum to be held at the end of July. The local ‘branch’ of the Russian group communicated this, explaining on Telegram that “a flight of instructors has arrived” in the capital Bangui and “several hundred of the most experienced professionals of the Wagner group have joined the team working in the Central African Republic”.

“Russian instructors will continue to help military personnel of the Central African Republic’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies to ensure security ahead of the constitutional referendum scheduled for July 30, 2023,” the message reads.

The country has been recording an increase in the arrival of Wagner troops for months, in line with the expansion of Russian mercenaries in Africa. As for the Central African Republic, the new alignment is linked to the constitutional referendum called in May by the president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, to amend the 2016 Charter so as to allow him to run for a third term.

The announcement came after the Central African opposition had in the previous weeks denounced serious concerns about the possible holding of the referendum, arguing that changes to the text of the Constitution would be proposed to establish a life presidency presided over by Touadéra. The current constitution prohibits the head of state from running for a third term. Touadéra was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020, after controversial elections marked by the offensive of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) rebels and the rejection of the results by the opposition.

The United States and its allies have denounced the activities of the Wagner Group in the Central African Republic and in other countries on the continent in which they operate, after reporting abuses and human rights violations, including indiscriminate attacks against civilians. Russia denies these allegations explaining that the Wagner group collaborates with the authorities to “educate” the national armed forces in their fight against terrorism.