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Burkina Faso denies paying Russian mercenaries with mining rights

The Ghanaian president alleged that Burkina Faso had hired Wagner mercenaries from Russia to help fight the armed groups.

Burkina Faso’s mines minister has denied an accusation by Ghana’s president that his northern neighbor had paid off Russian mercenaries by giving them the rights to a mine.

“We have not granted any permit to a Russian company in southern Burkina Faso,” Mines Minister Simon Pierre Boussim told reporters on Tuesday after a meeting with civil society groups concerned about the allegations.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo sparked controversy by declaring last week that Burkina Faso had hired mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group to help it fight non-state armed actors.

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“I think they were assigned a mine in southern Burkina Faso as a form of payment for their services,” Akufo-Addo said, speaking to reporters alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the United States summit. United-Africa.

The Burkina Faso government has neither formally confirmed nor denied the allegation that it has reached an agreement with Wagner, but it summoned Ghana’s ambassador to a meeting on Friday to explain the president’s remarks.

“We made a list of all the exploration or exploitation permits of large industrial mines in the south, so that they can clearly see that there is no hidden site,” Boussim said.

The Burkina Faso government recently granted a new exploration permit to Russian firm Nordgold for a gold mine in Yimiougou in the north-central region, Boussim said, but the company has been active in Burkina Faso for more than 10 years.

Burkina Faso’s neighbor Mali hired Wagner last year to help him fight armed groups in the Sahel. The prospect of the group expanding its presence in Africa has worried Western countries including France and the United States, which say it mines mineral resources and commits human rights abuses in the countries where it operates.

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