Jan 23, 2023
Burkina Faso Cuts French Military Ties in Jihadist Fight
(Bloomberg) -- Burkina Faso ended its military collaboration with France, the second West African nation to sever defense links that were forged to combat a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the region.
The French troops will be given one month to leave the country, government spokesman Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo told state-owned Radiodiffusion Television du Burkina on Monday.
The decision comes after the government on Jan. 18 criticized a 2018 agreement that enabled the troops to operate in Burkina Faso, according to a letter sent by the nation’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to its French counterpart seen by Bloomberg. Foreign ministry officials from both countries acknowledged the authenticity of the letter.
“This isn’t the end of diplomatic relations between Burkina Faso and France, or any of our other partners,” Ouedraogo said. “What’s ending is the military agreement that allows French troops to operate in Burkina Faso.”
Ties between Burkina Faso and France have frayed since soldiers seized control of the country in September, the second coup in eight months. Interim President Ibrahim Traore said Jan. 17 the junta is reviewing its relations with “certain nations” including France.
Under the terms of the military agreement signed four years ago, both countries have the right to terminate the accord with one month’s notice.
“I don’t see why France wouldn’t respect a term in an agreement that it has signed,” Ouedraogo said.
French troops withdrew from neighboring Mali after a 2020 coup in the former colony and the deployment of the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked Russian private military company.
Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyélem de Tambèla said after a visit to Moscow last month that he wants Russia to become an ally in the fight against Islamist militants.
France currently has about 400 special forces stationed in Burkina Faso contributing to counter-insurgency efforts in the region.
(Adds government response from third paragraph.)
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