After another successful coup in September of 2022, the military junta in the small African nation of Burkina Faso has rapidly diminished relations with the French government, historical allies in the fight against terrorism in the region, to the point where France is being asked to leave.
On Monday, Burkinabe government spokesman Rimtalba Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo declared that France is to pull its troops out of the country within a month, ending French deployment there which began in 2018. French forces have been deployed in West Africa since 2013 to fight jihadist groups in the region and train local forces. They’ve been notable in the containment of ISIS and others in West Africa, but still, the people there hold France in low regard due to historical woes, the inability to fully defeat jihadist forces, and ultimately made worse by rhetoric and protests since the installment of the new government.
“We are terminating the agreement which allows French forces to be in Burkina Faso,” Ouedraogo told Radio-Television du Burkina.
“This is not the end of diplomatic relations between Burkina Faso and France,” he added. “This termination is normal and is foreseen in the terms of the agreement.”
It should also be noted that the former interim President Paul-Henri Damiba allegedly fled to a French-controlled military base when ousted from power in September.
A day after Paris announced it will be pulling troops from Burkina Faso per the request, France also recalled the ambassador to the nation, citing recent developments. “We have decided to recall our ambassador in Paris, to conduct consultations on the state and perspectives of our bilateral cooperation”, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Since the change in leadership, Burkina Faso has opened the opportunity for Russia to fill the place of France. Current junta leader, Ibrahim Traore, has been openly friendly and hopeful to the potential for Russian support in the country, similar to the path Mali has taken after the French left their nation.
“Russia is a reasonable choice in this dynamic,” Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela said last week after meeting with the Russian ambassador, “we think our partnership has to be strengthened.”
Burkina Faso has been reluctant to answer as to their intention on hiring the Russian mercenary company Wagner Group, as neighboring Mali has done.
About 400 French soldiers were deployed to the country as part of a broader military campaign aimed at fighting extremists in Africa’s Sahel region. Though France has lost it’s military support in Burkina Faso and Mali, the fight continues in neighboring countries such as Chad and Niger against the rapidly spreading influence of groups associated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State which had to the death of thousands of civilians.