Paris, France (AFP):
France has declared that it will recall its ambassador from Burkina Faso, barely a day after agreeing to demands from the ruling junta to pull out troops from the former French colony in Africa’s Sahel region.
“In the context of the latest developments in Burkina Faso, we have decided to recall our ambassador to Paris for consultations on the state and perspectives of our bilateral relations,” the foreign ministry said.
Earlier, Burkina had said that it had asked France to withdraw within a month its contingent of some 400 troops currently stationed in the country. On Wednesday, Paris had expressed its agreement too.
It marked the latest scaling down of France’s military presence in Africa after the junta in neighbouring Mali also insisted French troops leave. President Emmanuel Macron had also drawn the curtain on the over decade-long mission there.
Both Mali and Burkina Faso fell out with Paris after military revolutions. The French presence became increasingly unpopular among the public due to the former colonial power intervening in the region to protect its own interests.
Militant groups continue to exist in the region while Russian influence is on the increase, in particular through the presence of mercenaries from the Wagner Group run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin.
Burkina is one of the poorest and most volatile countries in Africa.
Thousands of troops, police and civilians have been killed and around two million people have fled their homes since French intervention provoked an insurgency of militant groups from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
More than a third of the country lies beyond the control of the government, and frustration within the army at the mounting toll triggered two coups last year.