Prigozhin breaks cover to slam claims that Wagner orchestrated Niger coup

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigohzin has resurfaced amid the coup in Niger with the mercenary leader hitting out at suggestions that the shady private military contractor is behind the ousting of President Mohamed Bazum on Wednesday (July 26).

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s remarks concerning the recent events in Niger are being circulated in African media.

According to the Wagner boss, the coup in Niger represents “nothing but the struggle of the people of Niger against the colonialists.”

In a video message, Prigozhin looks to paint the coup as an “anti-colonial” struggle by the people of Niger.

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According to widespread reports, the Russian Wagner Group is engaged in Niger’s neighbouring countries of Mali and Burkina Faso.

These countries, along with Niger, are part of the Sahel region of western Africa and have suffered coup attempts as well as the threat of Islamist terrorist groups.

The Presidential Guard of Niger, supported by the country’s military, announced the removal of President Mohamed Bazum on Wednesday evening (July 26).

Following the revolution, citizens backing the rebel army marched through the capital on Thursday afternoon, waving Russian flags and celebrating the removal of President Bazoum.

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Experts have already warned that the Wagner Group, which is already present in Mali and Burkina Faso, could exploit the disarray to “extend their influence.”

While Prigozhin appeared to be distancing Wagner from events in Niger he could help to plug the mercenary group “services” to regimes in West Africa.

According to Prigozhin, Western peacekeeping missions are entirely ineffective and incapable of resolving situations like those unfolding in Niger.

He said: “This is the effectiveness of PMC Wagner – a thousand fighters of PMC Wagner are able to restore order and destroy terrorists, preventing them from harming the civilian population of states.”

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Regarding the future of Niger, Prigozhin emphasised the necessity of removing “colonial influences.” He said: “The most important thing is getting rid of the colonialists.”

Prigozhin added: “Everything else, of course, depends on the citizens of Niger themselves and how effectively management will be carried out.”

Ulf Lessing, from the German analytical centre Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, characterized President Bazum as the West’s sole prospect for stability in the region.

According to Mr Lessing, President Bazum represented the region’s only hope for stability. The coup opens the door for Russia and other actors to expand their influence amid the ensuing chaos.

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