Burkina Faso’s military regime expels French ambassador
Dakar, Senegal — Burkina Faso’s military junta has expelled the French ambassador, authorities said on Monday, amid rising anti-French sentiment as the West African country strives to develop closer ties. close with Russia.
Government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo confirmed to The Associated Press that Ambassador Luc Hallade had been asked to leave, but provided no further details. The French Embassy declined to comment.
Hallade’s expulsion comes less than two weeks after the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Burkina Faso, Barbara Manzi, was also declared persona non grata.
Burkina Faso has been ravaged by violence linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group which has killed thousands and displaced nearly 2 million people.
The current military regime toppled a previous junta last year, saying it had not done enough to stop the fighting. The previous junta had cited the same reason for taking power from a civilian government months earlier.
Anti-French sentiment has grown in the former French colony since new junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore took power in September. Traoré has been more open to working with other countries, especially Russia. Last month, Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Joachim Kyelem de Tambela visited Russia to strengthen relations and consolidate efforts to fight extremists in the region, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
France sent troops to West Africa’s Sahel region in 2013 when it helped oust Islamist extremists from power in northern Mali, but faces growing resistance from local governments who say French soldiers achieved little against the jihadists. French forces left Mali last year after relations with the junta broke down. The French still have several hundred special forces soldiers based in Burkina Faso.
Hallade’s expulsion comes a year after the Malian junta also expelled the French ambassador there.
While Burkina Faso’s military leaders see restoring security as their top priority, extremist attacks continue and escalate.
Last week at least ten people were killed when a bus hit a roadside bomb in the east. Jihadists have besieged towns, preventing people from moving freely and creating a humanitarian crisis that is pushing tens of thousands into starvation.
Analysts said the expulsion of the French envoy was not a surprise as the junta is following in Mali’s footsteps, and the question is whether Russia will now expand its influence in the region.
“It will clearly accentuate the polarization between (the countries of West Africa), between the States which oppose the policies of the junta and those which want to make the transition towards democracy”, declared Samuel Ramani, researcher associated with the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security body. thinking group.