The Central African Republic announced on Monday that a significant number of mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner private military company have arrived in CAR to provide security for a constitutional referendum scheduled for July 30, which could potentially result in the extension of the president’s term.
Following a brief mutiny in Russia led by the founder of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, hundreds of Wagner troops left CAR. This has sparked debate regarding the future of Wagner’s military and commercial activities in various countries, including CAR.
Contrary to previous statements, the government clarified that the movement of the troops is not a withdrawal but rather a rotational process of forces.
According to a senior military official in the capital, hundreds of troops have arrived in the Central African Republic (CAR), as reported by media.
Since gaining independence in 1960, the country, which is home to approximately 5.5 million people and is abundant in gold, diamonds, and timber, has faced ongoing challenges in achieving stability.
In 2013, the country plunged into further chaos when the then-president, Francois Bozize, was overthrown by a rebellion. This incident triggered another cycle of conflicts between various armed groups, which currently hold control over significant portions of the territory.
To deal with the rebel groups, CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who initially assumed office through the 2016 elections and won re-election in 2020, sought assistance from Moscow.
While actively campaigning, he is currently engaged in the constitutional referendum, which, if approved, could eliminate the two-term presidential limit and potentially allow him to run for office once more.
In 2018, Russia initially deployed security contractors to CAR, and since then, it has increased its support by sending over 1,500 troops, including instructors and soldiers who are actively collaborating with the country’s army in combat operations.