Niger coup: We’ll hold Russia responsible if Wagner violates human rights – ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said Russia will be held accountable if the Wagner Group, a private military contractor of the Eastern European nation, violates human rights over the Niger coup.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah stated this in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily Friday.

He noted that another West African nation had a separate arrangement with the security outfit.

“The Wagner Group, apparently, is in Mali today. The Malian government says this is an agreement between them and the Russian Federation,” Musah said.

“We want to take them by their word, which means any sort of action that infringes on human rights or yeah, or devastation in our region by these private military contractors, we are going to hold the other countries of our region responsible for that.”

Asked if he meant Russia, the ECOWAS official stressed, “That’s Russia — (we will hold them) responsible, diplomatically. The West African region is just not Russia.”

Musah stated that private military companies had been a feature of the African conflict scene for years. 

He said, “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.”

“The Americans are using them in Iraq; in Afghanistan, they use them, and others. 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.”

The ECOWAS commissioner also highlighted the current involvement of the Western forces in Niger, including France and the European Union (EU), adding that the region had also seen an influx of Middle Eastern nations such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, in like Russia and China.

“What we are saying is that we are not going to allow West Africa to be an arena of proxy wars again. And that is our attitude to Wagner. It is not our option,” he said.

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