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People demonstrate in Niger's capital Niamey to show their support for the coup plotters.


What’s next for Russian operations in Africa?

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022, Russian warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, recently killed in a plane crash, was scarcely known outside diehard Russophile circles.

Prigozhin’s celebrity status rose further after this summer’s short-lived mutiny, when, after feuding with Russia’s military leadership, he led thousands of his men from the frontlines in eastern Ukraine toward the heart of Moscow in protest.

Since Prigozhin was killed last week in an explosive event that few believe was an accident, there’s been much speculation about the future of Wagner and its global operations, particularly across Africa, where the group has invested the bulk of its manpower in recent years.

Now that the man at the top is dead, along with his main deputies, what does this mean for the group’s surreptitious activities across the world’s fastest-growing continent?

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The last French convoy from Operation Barkhane, prepares to leave Gossi, Mali.


The UN’s dangerous withdrawal from Mali

The UN this week laid out a timeline for withdrawing peacekeeping troops from the West African state of Mali – a mission that UN chief António Guterres has called “unprecedented” because of the vast logistical and security challenges.

Roughly 13,000 UN peacekeepers and police – and 1,786 civilian staff – will be out of the country by Dec. 31, with their infrastructure handed over to Mali’s military government. The withdrawal of UN forces, who’ve been in the country for a decade, is a huge development in a state long plagued by ethnic strife, poverty, and Islamic insurgents.

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Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadera speaks while surrounded by Russian officers from Wagner Group.


Hard Numbers: Wagner-backed referendum in Africa, World Triathlon Championships turns stomachs, nuclear fusion test redo, cheese tragedy

95: A referendum abolishing presidential term limits in the civil-war-plagued Central African Republic has comfortably passed, with provisional results showing 95% of people voted in favor, though turnout was a very low 10%. President Faustin-Archange Touadéra has close ties with Russia’s Wagner Group, which reportedly sent in additional mercenaries to keep order ahead of the vote.

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Pro-junta protesters gather outside the French Embassy in Niamey, Niger.

REUTERS/Souleymane Ag Anara

​The geopolitics of Niger's coup

As the crisis in coup-plagued Niger deepens, a French military plane on Tuesday began evacuating European nationals after junta leaders closed the country’s airspace, halting commercial flights. Spain is also preparing to evacuated citizens from Niger.

Compounding the chaos, two countries in the Sahel region – Burkina Faso and Mali – issued a warning that any attempts by outsiders to reinstate Niger’s recently deposed leader Mohamed Bazoum would be viewed as a declaration of war on them all.

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Wagner Group guards are seen around CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera during the referendum campaign in Bangui.

REUTERS/Leger Kokpakpa

Wagner to guard CAR referendum

On Sunday, the Central African Republic holds a referendum on its new constitution, which (surprise!) removes presidential term limits. With violence all but assured, the vote will be protected by the army ... and a bunch of foreign mercenaries from a group that's become a household name.

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