The Burkina Faso government has made a formal request for French troops to leave the country within a month, according to a statement from a government spokesman. The West African nation is currently experiencing a rise in violence from jihadist groups, and tensions between the Burkina Faso government and France have been escalating in recent months.
France currently deploys around 400 special forces soldiers in Burkina Faso, but government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo announced on Monday that the agreement allowing for their presence would be terminated. “This is not the end of diplomatic relations between Burkina Faso and France,” Ouedraogo said, “This termination is normal and is foreseen in the terms of the agreement.”
The decision to ask for the withdrawal of French troops follows a series of protests in the country, which have called for the departure of both the French ambassador and military forces. In October, the French Cultural Center in the capital Ouagadougou was attacked by protesters. The Burkinabe foreign ministry sent a letter to Paris last Wednesday, requesting “to terminate and close the agreement in its entirety.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that the French government is awaiting clarification from Burkina Faso regarding the request for troops to leave. Macron also called on the country’s coup leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, to take a public stance on the issue.
In the meantime, Burkina Faso is looking for new allies in the region. The country’s prime minister, Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela, recently visited Moscow and announced that Russia is seen as a “reasonable choice” for strengthening partnerships. This move echoes similar efforts by neighboring Mali, which has also sought closer ties with Russia in recent years.