Officials in Paris have announced that France is recalling its ambassador from Burkina Faso, a day after agreeing to demands from the ruling military junta to pull out troops. Burkina said it had given France one month to withdraw its contingent of 400 troops stationed in the country, to which Paris agreed.
Both Mali and Burkina Faso fell out with Paris in the wake of military coups. With both nations under military rule, the French presence has become increasingly unpopular among the public.
For several months, the ruling junta has made known its dissatisfaction with the French Ambassador, Luc Hallade. In December, junta officials wrote to Paris, demanding Hallade’s departure, claiming that he had publicly criticised the country’s collapsing security apparatus.
Ambassador Hallade has been in place in Ouagadougou since the summer of 2019, with the promised withdrawal marking the latest scaling down of France’s military presence in Africa. The junta in neighbouring Mali has also insisted on the departure of French troops. Last year, President Emmanuel Macron brought France’s decade long anti-jihadist mission to an end.
Jihadist activity continues in the Sahel region while concern grows over the increasing influence of Russia, in particular through the presence of mercenaries from the Wagner Group run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin.
The Burkinabé prime minister visited Moscow in December. Two weeks ago, at the height of the crisis over the continuing presence of French military personnel, he declared that a partnership with Russia was “a logical choice”.