Wagner-Backed Central African Leader Wins Right to Third Term


Bloomberg’s Katarina Hoije reports that the Central African Republic voted to abolish term limits in a July 29 constitutional referendum, which may result in President Faustin-Archange Touadera seeking re-election in 2025.

The proposed new constitution that abolishes a two-term limit and extends the presidential mandate from five to seven years won approval by 95% of voters, the National Electoral Authority said in a statement. Voter participation was 61%. Opposition parties and civil society groups boycotted the referendum, which they deemed unlawful.

The Central African Republic is one of several African countries where Russia’s Wagner Group has established a presence in recent years, offering its services often in return for mineral resources, as a way to indirectly bolster the Kremlin’s geopolitical reach, according to the US Treasury and the Sentry, a US nonprofit.

The foreign fighters have played a central role in helping Touadera, 66, maintain his grip on power. Wagner was hired by Touadera in 2018 to help fend off rebels that continue to control large swathes of the country. Two years later, they protected him again, as rebels advanced on Bangui, the capital, days before Touadera sought re-election.

Wagner has about 1,500 troops including instructors and private military contractors in the Central African Republic, where they operate alongside the country’s army.

Reports indicate that the country is heavily dependent upon foreign aid and numerous NGOs provide services that the government does not provide. It relies on food packages and mostly on humanitarian assistance. In 2021, the UN estimated, population as approximately 5.4 billion.

The Republic’s primary import partner is France (17.1%). Other imports come from the United States (12.3%), India (11.5%), and China (8.2%). Its largest export partner is France (31.2%), followed by Burundi (16.2%), China (12.5%), Cameroon (9.6%), and Austria (7.8%)

The Central African Republic a is a landlocked country in central Africa. Despite its significant mineral deposits and other resources, such as uranium reserves, crude oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, lumber, and hydropower, as well as significant quantities of arable land, it still remains among the ten poorest countries in the world. Additional report provided by Kester Kenn Klomegah from Modern Diplomacy.