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.
Fresh off its failed mutiny in Russia, the notorious Wagner Group will act as President Faustin-Archange Touaderá's praetorian guard to ensure the plebiscite goes off without a hitch in CAR, a resource-rich yet dirt-poor and chronically unstable nation. Wagner fighters have been deployed in CAR since 2018, and they helped Touaderá get reelected two years ago by scaring off rebels (he showed his gratitude by building a statue honoring "Russian" soldiers in Bangui, the capital).
Still, with its boss Yevgeny Prigozhin now out of favor with Vladimir Putin, Wagner's future in CAR is uncertain. Although the president needs the mercs to keep the rebels in check and Bangui safe, the Kremlin — which has de facto wrested control of Wagner away from Prigozhin — might decide to send its forces to Ukraine or wherever else Moscow needs boots on the ground.Either way, whatever happens in CAR will be closely monitored in Burkina Faso and Mali, two African countries run by military juntas where Wagner has contracts — and Putin has interests.