The military administration of Burkina Faso has issued an order for French troops stationed in the West African nation to withdraw from Burkina Faso within the next month. Relations between France and its former colony have been getting worse since a second military coup in September last year. This decision, which was released by the official Agence d’Information du Burkina Faso (AIB) on Saturday, is the latest sign of this trend.
According to the AIB, the military administration suspended a military deal that had been in place since 2018 and allowed for the presence of French troops in the nation on Wednesday. The French did not immediately provide a comment. According to a source close to the Burkinabe military who spoke with the AFP news agency, Ouagadougou is not cutting ties with France and that the “notice primarily concerns military cooperation agreements.”
Burkina Faso, which is engaged in fighting against militants connected with al-Qaeda and ISIL, has approximately 400 French Special Forces soldiers stationed there. The West African nation is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the fighting there, which originated in Mali but spread throughout the Sahel over the past decade, has resulted in the deaths of thousands upon thousands of civilians. In the past few months, the level of anti-French feeling in the country has reached an all-time high. This is because many people believe that the presence of French troops has not made the security situation any better.
According to notable civil society leader and reggae singer Passamde Sawadogo, “despite their presence on Burkinabe land with vast equipment and their strength at the intelligence level, they were unable to help us battle terrorism.” He told the Associated Press that “it had thus come to the time for us to get rid of them, and that is what the transition administration is doing with great courage.”
On Friday, hundreds of people in Burkina Faso rallied against France in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou. They called for the removal of the French ambassador to Burkina Faso and the shutting down of the French military installation in the country.
They held enormous posters depicting the heads of state of Mali and Guinea, both of whose governments also came to power as a result of military coups, as well as Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. One of the rally’s organizers, Mohamed Sinon, said that the purpose of the event was to show support for Burkinabe coup leader Captain Ibrahim Traore and the security forces fighting al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS). He continued by saying, “We are a pan-African movement, and we desire friendship and cooperation with Guinea and Mali, as well as cooperation between Burkina Faso and Russia.” In 2017, Mali, a country that was formerly a colony of France, demanded that all French troops leave the country.
After nine years of combating al-Qaeda and ISIL-affiliated forces, the last of the 2,400 French troops stationed there left in August. A significant number of them have relocated their operations to Niger and Chad instead. Mali has recently contracted the services of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, who stand accused of committing severe violations of human rights both in Mali and elsewhere.