Chad’s foreign minister warned against outside interference on Thursday, referencing Russian paramilitaries operating in neighboring countries.
Cherif Mahamat Zene said “external interference, wherever it comes from, poses a very serious problem for the stability and security of my country,” when asked about Russia’s Wagner Group.
He told AFP and Africa Confidential on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York that every measure would be taken “to ensure” Chad is protected.
“There are Russian mercenaries present in Libya, who are also present in the Central African Republic,” he said.
Zene said rebels who killed former president Idriss Deby Itno in fighting in April had been trained by the private security Wagner Group.
“We have reason to be concerned about the presence of these mercenaries,” he said, adding though that Chad did not have proof that the mercenaries were in the country.
Russian paramilitaries, private-security instructors and companies have grown increasingly influential in Africa in recent years, particularly in the conflict-ridden Central African Republic (CAR), where the United Nations has accused Wagner contractors of committing abuses.
This week, France warned Mali that using the Wagner Group would isolate the country internationally after reports that Mali’s army-dominated government was close to hiring 1,000 of the paramilitaries.