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Home World News Washington Post World News Burkina Faso ends ties with French troops, orders departure

Burkina Faso ends ties with French troops, orders departure

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OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Burkina Faso’s junta government late Saturday ordered hundreds of French troops to leave the West African country within a month, following the lead of neighboring Mali, whose country is also led by a coup leader.

This is reported by the national broadcaster RTB, citing the official Agence d’Information du Burkina. The news agency said the decision was made on Wednesday to end the presence of the French army on Burkinabe soil.

Protesters took to the streets in the capital Ouagadougou last week to call for the ouster of the French ambassador and the closure of a French military base north of the capital. About 400 French special forces soldiers are currently stationed there, France 24 reported.

The move by the Burkina Faso regime comes five months after France completed its withdrawal from Mali after nine years of fighting Islamic extremists along with regional forces. Many of them are now based in Niger and Chad instead.

While the number of French troops in Burkina Faso is much smaller than in Mali — 400 special forces, compared to more than 2,400 soldiers — Saturday’s announcement adds to growing concerns that Islamist extremists are taking advantage of the political disorder and using it to expand their reach. Analysts have questioned whether the national armies of Burkina Faso and Mali are able to fill the gap.

More than 60 years after Burkina Faso’s independence, French remains an official language and France maintains strong economic and humanitarian aid ties with its former colony. However, as the Islamist extremist insurgency intensified, anti-French sentiment increased, partly due to the ongoing violence.

After the second coup last year, anti-French protesters began urging the junta to strengthen ties with Russia instead. Mali has already hired Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, who are accused of widespread human rights violations there and elsewhere.

Saturday’s announcement was welcomed by those who had lost their temper with France.

“Despite their presence on Burkinabe soil with massive equipment and their intelligence-level power, they could not help us defeat terrorism,” said Passamde Sawadogo, a prominent civic activist and reggae singer. “So it was about time we had to get rid of them, and the transitional government is doing that with a lot of courage.”

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report.



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