Ghanaian supporters of Russian mercenary group Wagner arrested for allegedly plotting coup

Ghanaian supporters of Russian mercenary group Wagner arrested for allegedly plotting coup
/ bne IntelliNews
By Kent Mensah in Accra October 4, 2023

At least five Ghanaians linked to Russia-backed mercenary group Wagner have been arrested in Ghana for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, writes The Africa Report.

Ghanaian officials said the suspects are facing prosecution after staging a protest in solidarity with Russia last August in the port city of Takoradi.

According to report, the suspects had engaged over several weeks with foreign collaborators to mobilise local youth and plan a solidarity protest via Telegram groups.

“They are facing charges of planning to overthrow the government and destabilising the country’s peace,” Joy News quoted a police source saying.

On the day of the protest, a few dozen youths turned up at Diabene community park in the Western region of the West African country, where they waved Russian flags and wielded placards with inscriptions including “Biden is a warmonger” and “Long live Russia,” whipping up anti-French and anti-Western sentiments.

“What they did is an example of a deliberate propaganda [campaign] that is employed by the Westerners, Russians and Chinese here in West Africa and particularly the Russians whose pervasive propaganda and fake news is significant on the continent,” Mukhtar Mumuni Muktar of the West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism tells The Africa Report.

“[But] it is odd for this to take place in Ghana, a country known for stability, democracy and does not share any resemblance to what is happening in the other West African countries,” Muktar added.

The Ghana police have declined to comment on the issue.

Activities of the Wagner Group are well-documented in Libya, Mozambique, Mali, the Central African Republic, and Sudan as part of Russia’s quest for influence and the exploitation of gold and other mineral resources in Africa. 

Last December, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo alleged that Wagner Group's presence in neighbouring Burkina Faso, which has been struggling to contain Islamist militants who operate in many parts of the country, was "distressing".

Speaking at the US-African Leaders Summit, he accused Burkina Faso of hiring Russian mercenaries, giving them revenue from a mine as payment, and ceding a mine, reportedly with gold reserves, near the border with Ghana in exchange for the group's services. Burkina Faso’s mines minister denied the allegations.

In recent months, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has begun openly supporting military juntas in West Africa, according to a recent report by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

This move follows Moscow’s decision to subsume Wagner into the structure of the army, following a mutiny against the MoD in June led by its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash outside Moscow in late August, widely believed to have been caused by an explosion on board.