The weight of a delegation is often measured by the composition of its members. If we rely on this logic, the one sent by Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba to his Malian counterpart, Assimi Goïta, in Bamako on April 22 was then of the utmost importance. To represent him on the banks of the Niger River, the Burkinabè lieutenant-colonel who became president had commissioned three officers: squadron leader Serge Thierry Kiendrebeogo, his chief of staff, lieutenant-colonel Yves Didier Bamouni, commandant National Theater Operations, and Lieutenant-Colonel Daba Naon, Commander of the National Fire Brigade. Three figures from his inner circle who, since the putsch which allowed them to take power on January 24, occupy a central place in the conduct of business in Ouagadougou.
Russia-Africa: the shadow of Wagner’s mercenaries
This April 22, therefore, the three Burkinabè officers are visiting Bamako. There they meet the strong men of the Malian junta: Colonels Malick Diaw, President of the National Transitional Council, Modibo Koné, head of State Security, Sadio Camara, Minister of Defence, and above all Assimi Goïta, the head of the state. Objective: to talk about security and military cooperation between their two countries, beset by jihadist groups who come and go every day on both sides of their 1,200 kilometers of common borders. During their various meetings, ways of strengthening their operational cooperation are discussed – in particular in a vast area under jihadist control ranging from the surroundings of Bandiagara, on the Malian side, to those of Ouahigouya, on the Burkinabè side.
Wagner is clearly looking to establish a foothold here
Very quickly, a question emerged after these closed-door talks between Malian and Burkinabè putschists: was there any question of Wagner’s mercenaries? And, if that was the case, did the Ouagadougou soldiers show interest in using the Russian private military company, with which their Malian counterparts have been cooperating since the end of 2021? The main concerned swear that it was not discussed. According to a Burkinabè officer close to the delegation dispatched to Bamako, Wagner was “never” even mentioned with them Malians.