French soldiers in Burkina Faso: Withdraw within a month
Photo: MICHELE CATTANI / AFP
France continues to scale back its military engagement in Africa.
As the Foreign Ministry announced in Paris, the around 400 special forces stationed in Burkina Faso are to be withdrawn in the near future.
"We have officially received the termination of the agreement," said a ministry spokesman, referring to a cooperation decided in 2018 in the fight against radical Islamist groups.
France will respect the planned deadline of one month, it said.
France had already withdrawn its soldiers from Mali last year after more than nine years of presence.
There, the military junta, which had been in power since 2020, had urged Paris to withdraw its soldiers.
In November, Germany followed suit: The Bundeswehr is to withdraw completely from the West African country by May 2024.
The troops had previously observed how fighters from the Russian mercenary group »Wagner« were spreading in Mali.
Russians have also been sighted at the airport in Gao.
“Russia is a reasonable choice in this regard”
In Burkina Faso, the situation may be developing in a similar way.
There, in September 2022, the military Ibrahim Traoré seized power and installed a government that apparently has close ties to Moscow.
"In this respect, Russia is a sensible choice (...), we think that we should expand this partnership," said Burkina Faso's Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyélem de Tembela recently after a meeting with the Russian ambassador.
The Burkinabe prime minister was received in Moscow in December.
Paris had recently tried to patch the relationship with Burkina Faso.
"France doesn't want to impose itself, but we are ready to plan the future together," State Secretary Chrysoula Zacharopoulou said during a visit to Ougadougou.
France does not want to influence the decisions of the Burkinabe government.
On Monday, however, the government there announced its decision to end the military agreement with France.
Apparently, the government there now wants to fight the jihadist groups alone.
Similar to neighboring Mali, the security situation in Burkina Faso is poor.
Islamist groups are terrorizing the population in the resource-rich country with around 20 million inhabitants.
It is unclear whether the French units might be relocated to neighboring Niger.