Several hundred “experienced” Wagner fighters have arrived in the Central African Republic to secure a referendum on July 30, a Russian private security company said Sunday.
The troubled nation, where Wagner mercenaries are already helping the government fight rebels, will vote on a constitutional change that could enable President Faustin Archange Touadera to seek a third term in office.
“Another plane has arrived in Bangui with instructors to work in the Central African Republic,” said the Officers’ Union for International Security (OUIS) on Telegram.
“The planned rotation continues. Several hundred experienced professionals from the Wagner company are joining the team working in CAR,” said the statement.
“Russian instructors will continue to aid soldiers in the Central African armed forces to ensure security in anticipation of the constitutional referendum scheduled for July 30.”
According to the United States, OUIS is a front company for the Wagner group in CAR. It is run by Russian Alexandre Ivanov, who was placed under American sanctions in January.
In its statement, OUIS said its instructors have been training CAR security forces for more than five years, allowing for an improvement in the general security of the country.
In recent weeks, several foreign sources have said that Wagner fighters were leaving CAR, which the government has denied.
The future of the private paramilitary group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin is uncertain after it launched a short-lived mutiny against Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s government on June 23 and 24.
Wagner fighters seized Russian army sites and advanced towards Moscow before standing down under a deal struck with Putin and mediated by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, the details of which remain murky.
But its activities abroad, particularly in Syria and several African countries, have not been publicly called into question.