Accessibility links

Breaking News

Benin, Rwanda Discuss Border Security

FILE - Rwandan President Paul Kagame (C) gestures towards Beninese Foreign Minister Aurelien Agbenonci (R) upon his arrival at Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport on April 15, 2023.

COTONOU, BENIN — Rwanda's President Paul Kagame met Saturday with his Benin counterpart, Patrice Talon, promising military support to help the country contain spillover from jihadi conflict across its northern border with Burkina Faso.

West Africa coastal nations Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast are preparing for a potential spillover as Burkina Faso struggles to contain an Islamist militant insurgency gaining ground just across their northern borders.

Benin last year said it was in talks over military and logistical cooperation with Rwanda, whose troops Kagame has dispatched to help Mozambique and Central African Republic combat unrest.

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

"There will be no limit" in what "will be accomplished together for security challenges."

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

A French troop withdrawal from Mali in the face of mounting disputes with the junta there and Burkina Faso's instability have refocused Western partners to aid Gulf of Guinea coastal nations to stop the southward spread of the Sahel's Islamist militant conflict.

Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast have suffered attacks in border areas blamed on jihadis, while Ghana recently reinforced its military presence along its own northern frontier.

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, Benin's foreign ministry said in a statement.

They discussed "the terrorist threat and its spread" as well as the means of strengthening cooperation to deal with it, the statement said.

"The Rwandan army has experience and is seasoned," Talon said.

Benin's military is battling an expanding threat from jihadi conflicts across its northern border in Burkina Faso and Niger, with around 20 incursions since 2021.

A top Benin government official had said last year any agreement would not provide for deployment of Rwandan troops on the ground in Benin.

Brigadier General Fructueux Gbaguidi, Benin's armed forces chief of army staff, visited Rwanda last year for talks to deepen the existing relations between the two armies.

Gulf of Guinea states have increased their military presence in northern border regions, with Togo imposing a state of emergency in its far northern provinces. Ghana recently sent 1,000 more troops and police to its northern border region.