Burkina Faso calls for withdrawal of French troops

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Burkina Faso has asked France to withdraw hundreds of troops stationed in the country to fight terrorism, a government spokesperson announced on Monday, confirming earlier reports in French media.

The French soldiers have a month to leave the country, Jean-Emmanuel Ouédraogo said in an interview on public broadcaster RTB.

“This is not about ending diplomatic relations between Burkina Faso and France,” Ouédraogo added. “We are counting on our friends for support, but it is mostly support in material terms, to assist us in equipping our volunteers for the defense of our homeland.”

Around 400 French troops have been posted in Burkina Faso since 2018, as part of France’s efforts to curb the expansion of terrorist groups in the Sahel region.

France’s presence in its former colony has been called into question in recent months, following a military coup that brought to power junior soldiers under the leadership of Captain Ibrahim Traoré last September.

On Sunday, Burkina Faso’s Foreign Ministry officially asked France to withdraw its troops, in a letter addressed to Paris, according to reports from Agence France-Presse.

French President Emmanuel Macron later asked for “clarifications” on that request.

“At the present stage, we do not see how we can be clearer than this,” Ouédraogo said Monday.

“It is the Burkinabé themselves who will consent to the necessary sacrifices for the liberation of our territory,” the spokesperson added.

After the coup, the new leaders of Burkina Faso expressed “their desire to move towards other partners” in their fight against terrorism.

The move has been viewed by some experts as an attempt to get closer to Russia, which has been expanding its footprint in the region.

Source: Politico