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Burkina Faso summons Ghanaian envoy over president’s complaint about Wagner

President Nana Akufo-Addo alleged during the US-Africa Leaders Summit that Burkina Faso has hired Russian mercenaries.

Burkina Faso has summoned Ghana’s ambassador to protest allegations that the embattled Sahel nation has hired Russian mercenaries, the Foreign Ministry says.

Friday’s summons was issued after Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Wednesday alleged that Burkina Faso had hired the mercenaries.

“Today, Russian mercenaries are on our northern border. Burkina Faso has now reached an agreement to accompany Mali in employing Wagner’s forces there,” Akufo-Addo said at the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington.

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Speaking alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Akufo-Addo also alleged that Burkina Faso had offered Wagner a mine as payment.

In a statement issued after his meeting with the Ghanaian ambassador, Burkina Faso’s foreign ministry said it had “expressed its disapproval” of the statements made by the Ghanaian president.

“Ghana could have exchanged with the Burkina Faso authorities on the issue of security in order to have the correct information,” he said.

However, he did not confirm or deny the accusations. In a separate message to Reuters, a foreign ministry spokesman said, without elaborating: “In any case, Burkina has not called Wagner.”

Burkina Faso also called its Ghanaian ambassador for a meeting, the spokesperson said.

Authorities in Ouagadougou have not commented publicly on speculation of working with Wagner, a group of mercenaries that was hired in neighboring Mali to help fight armed groups.

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In a response Thursday to Akufo-Addo’s comments, Wagner did not directly address Ghana’s concerns. But the response, attributed to Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused Western governments and United Nations forces of committing some of the crimes Wagner has been accused of in Africa.

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The prospect of Wagner expanding its presence in Africa has worried Western powers including France and the United States, which say the group mines mineral resources and commits human rights abuses in the countries where it operates.

Burkina Faso’s government spokesman did not return calls and did not reply to a message requesting comment.

A Ghana Foreign Ministry official said no one was immediately available for comment.

Burkina Faso is struggling to contain some of the same armed groups present in Mali and, like its neighbor, is ruled by a military government that came to power on promises of improved security.

Mali’s decision to use Wagner’s forces last year alienated it from its regional and Western allies and was one of the reasons French forces withdrew from the country.

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Wagner’s forces have also fought in Libya, the Central African Republic and Mozambique.

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