NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 12:13
The military regime in Burkina Faso wants the French troops to leave the country within a month, state news agency AIB reports. At the beginning of this month, the French ambassador was already expelled.
“Last Wednesday, the Burkinabe government canceled the agreement that has regulated the presence of French armed forces on its territory since 2018,” AIB writes. There are now four hundred French troops in the country in West Africa to help in the fight against jihadists.
Relations between France and Burkina Faso have deteriorated in recent months. This is partly because a new military regime came to power here in September through a coup d’état. That was the second coup in eight months. The country is now ruled by the military led by Captain Ibrahim Traoré.
President Macron said yesterday he is waiting for “clarifications” from the Burkinabé leader. He calls Burkina Faso’s message “confusing”, because Captain Traoré is not in the capital.
Furthermore, Macron says it is important to be careful, as Russia may be interfering in the discussion. Strengthening ties with Moscow has been on the agenda in Burkina Faso since the last coup. Last Friday there was a large anti-French demonstration in the capital, where French flags were burned and Russian flags were waved.
Women and children liberated
Burkina Faso has been facing violence since 2015 from extremists linked to al-Qaeda and IS. Violence has spread from neighboring Mali. The jihadists are occupying territory in the north of the country.
In recent years, hundreds of residents of villages in the region have been killed and thousands of people have fled. This weekend, another 66 women and children kidnapped by armed men, probably jihadists, were freed.
Africa correspondent Saskia Houttuin:
“The decision to let French troops leave has to do with several things: first of all, there is enormous dissatisfaction in the country about how the fight against terror is being conducted. Jihadists are gaining more and more foothold. As a result, the country has become gone downhill tremendously.
Among the population, France is partly blamed for this, because the French troops have not succeeded in turning the tide. Populism plays a very important role in this: France, as a former colonizer, is really unpopular among the population.
The big question is what consequences the departure of the French troops will have for the security situation. It is not only about men, but also about material, training capacity and knowledge. The military regime wants to do more itself and hunt terrorists more proactively. So far that has not proven to be such a success, because it is perhaps even more dangerous than ever in the country at the moment.
Burkina Faso is very important to France and international troops. It is also seen as the center of the terror problem in the Sahel. If you want to fight jihadism there, it is actually very difficult to ignore Burkina Faso.
We don’t yet know what the decision will ultimately mean. But if we look at the overall picture, we see that with the departure of the French, there is a big gap in the region.”
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