British soldiers expected in Ghana after withdrawal from Mali – Report
With the withdrawal of some 300 British peacekeepers from Mali in the wake of frosty relations with Bamako over the involvement of Russian mercenaries in the fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel, some special forces are expected to arrive in Ghana.
In a report by UK-based ‘The Telegraph’ and sighted by GhanaWeb, British ministers are also expected to be in Accra to hammer out a new security agreement which will position Ghana and by extension Burkina Faso as the new frontline against terrorism.
It is unclear if the move is a face-saving operation in the wake of the mission in Mali being shut down or something more significant as British forces already train troops in Ghana.
Ghana, Togo, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire all signed up for the Accra Initiative in 2017. This is a coalition which aims at stopping insecurity spilling over their borders from the Sahel.
It was reported on Monday, November 14, that the UK will be withdrawing all of its troops from Mali, which until only a few months ago, Whitehall officials were describing as “the new frontline of the war on terror”.
Former Africa Minister Rory Stewart, who championed the so-called “pivot to the Sahel” under Prime Minister Theresa May, was scathing about the real purpose of the Ghana trip, suggesting it was no more than a face-saving operation.
“We struggled to maintain 300 troops in Mali, partly because it cost perhaps as much as a hundred million pounds from tightly stretched budgets,” he told The Telegraph. “I fear that the ‘pivot to Ghana and Burkina Faso’ is largely a way of excusing our retreat from the Sahel and will ultimately add up to less than people pretend.”
“We have been worrying about Burkina Faso for some time. But without an embassy there or any significant investment, there is a real limit to what the UK can do,” Stewart added.