Rwanda Promises Military Assistance to Benin to Combat Sahel Jihadist Threat

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame, left, in a press conference with Benin president Patrice Talon.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame met his Benin counterpart Patrice Talon at the weekend, promising military support to help the west African nation contain a spillover from jihadist conflict at Benin’s northern border with Burkina Faso.

West Africa’s coastal nations Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are increasingly worried by the islamist insurgency gaining ground just across their northern borders.

Last year Benin began talks over military and logistical cooperation with Rwanda, whose troops President Kagame has already dispatched to help quell unrest in Mozambique and the Central African Republic.

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Speaking at a press conference with Talon in Cotonou, Kagame said: “We are ready to work with Benin to prevent anything that may happen around its borders.”

Kamaùe added that there would be no limit to what could be accomplished together to meet security challenges

Details about the cooperation were not immediately clear, though the Benin leader said it could include “supervision, coaching, training and joint deployment”.

Jihadists spreading south

France’s withdrawal of troops from Mali in the face of continuing disputes with the ruling junta and Burkina Faso’s instability have refocused Western partners to aid coastal nations on the Gulf of Guinea to stop the southward spread of the Sahel’s Islamist insurgency.

Benin, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire have already suffered attacks in border areas blamed on jihadists, while Ghana recently reinforced its military presence along its northern frontier.

According to Benin’s foreign ministry, Talon and Kagame had a one-on-one meeting to discuss relations between the two countries and “the search for strategic partnership” in several areas, including security.

The two leaders reportedly discussed “the terrorist threat and its spread” as well as the means of strengthening cooperation to deal with it.

Talon underlined the fact that “the Rwandan army has experience and is seasoned.”

Benin has reported 20 jihadist incursions since 2021.

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