Military junta in Burkina Faso: New trouble for Paris in Africa

Military junta in Burkina Faso: New trouble for Paris in Africa

Burkina Faso calls on France to withdraw its ambassador. As in Mali, the ruling military in Burkina is apparently looking to get closer to Russia.

A man is wrapped in a Russian flag

Pro Russian declamation in Burkina Faso on September 22

COTONOU taz | One thing can be heard again and again from Burkina Faso these days: the situation is tense. About the brief euphoria of the military putsch from September 30th is not felt much anymore. The hope from Europe that the Sahel state, unlike neighboring Mali, would clearly distance itself from Russia is also fading.

Now the interim government is demanding from the putschist leader Ibrahim Traorethat France’s Ambassador Luc Hallade will be replaced. Foreign Minister Olivia Rouamba wrote a letter in December that has been circulating on social media since the beginning of the week. Government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo confirmed the request to journalists on Tuesday.

There is no concrete justification and France has not yet commented on it. But at least since the second coup in 2022 at the end of September, the relationship has been battered. Young men in particular protested against the presence of the former colonial power and set car tires on fire in front of their cultural institutes in the capital Ouagadougou and the second largest Burkinabe city Bobo Dioulasso. The destination was the French embassy. Even in Mali, where anti-French resentment was felt earlier and more clearly, there has not yet been a comparable incident.

Burkina Faso’s junta may have been annoyed again in December by a statement by the French ambassador on the security situation. He asked his compatriots to leave the city of Koudougou because of the high risk of terrorism. In July, the junta, at the head of which General Paul Henri Damiba stood, asked the ambassador to be even more objective and reserved. Hallade had previously described the fight against terrorism as a “civil war”.

Connections to Russia are getting closer

According to Ghana, Burkina Faso has agreed to station Wagner mercenaries

Hallade’s expulsion is not the only one. Before Christmas, Barbara Manzi, the United Nations’ highest representative in Burkina Faso, was declared persona non grata. On state television, Foreign Minister Rouamba accused her of cooperating with terrorists: she could drive to the city of Djibo and leave the city again without any problems. Djibo, in embattled northwestern Burkina Faso, was cut off from the rest of the country for months, and military-backed food convoys failed to enter the city either.

At the same time, Burkina Faso’s ties to Russia are becoming closer. In October it was emphasized that no Russians were wanted Wagner mercenaries have in the country as in Mali, but only the ability to buy weapons to defend yourself against terrorist groups. In mid-December, however, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said during a visit to the United States that Burkina Faso had concluded an agreement on the stationing of Wagner mercenaries. Burkina Faso protested the statement, calling it serious and false. However, at almost the same time, Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyélem de Tembela met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow.

However, not only Islamist terrorist groups are responsible for the lack of security. As has now become known, members of the self-defense militia killed on New Year’s Eve VDP (Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland) 28 people in the village of Nouna – all male, most shot. The self-defense groups were originally created to combat cattle theft, are recognized as an auxiliary force for the army and are intended to support them in the fight against terrorism.

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