KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – Angry protesters in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou tried to storm the French embassy in the city. Local police attempted to disperse the crowd by firing tear gas shells.
The protesters, who were demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador, rallied at the municipal stadium in the morning before heading to the French embassy, where they were dispersed by the police.
“Police fired tear gas after negotiations with the protesters asking them to leave the scene peacefully failed. But the protesters responded by stoning the embassy,” it said.
The protesters later reportedly headed toward Kamboinse, where a French military base is located.
Video footage showed the protesters, some riding on motorcycles, blowing whistles, shouting slogans such as “down with France.”
The protesters, mainly youth, accuse France of being responsible for Burkina Faso’s problems, including insecurity.
They want the military to sever the security partnership with France in favor of Russia.
There was no immediate comment from the French embassy.
But in a statement on previous demonstrations following the September coup, the embassy “firmly denied” any French involvement in the events in Burkina Faso.
France maintains a military presence in Burkina Faso, with a contingent of special forces based in Kamboinsin, 30 kilometers from Ouagadougou.
“For a long time, we have said that we no longer want France in our country,” the newspaper quoted a protester as saying. “It is France that is responsible for our misfortunes. We have protested before but they are still here. But today is the last day….”
Last month, anti-French protesters waving Russian flags demonstrated in the capital.
After the January coup which deposed elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, angry soldiers led by Capt. Ibrahim Traore last month ousted Lt. Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba in a second coup in eight months.