France to withdraw troops from Burkina Faso as its unpopularity in Africa grows

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French authorities have not confirmed the number of troops, however, and it remains unclear where they might be moving. In Africa, France has bases in Djibouti, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Senegal. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce a restructuring of France’s military presence on the continent later this year.

The departure of the French troops embodies a wider malaise that is developing between Burkina Faso and its former colonizer, a phenomenon that is spreading in French-speaking countries in Africa. In Burkina Faso’s northern neighbor Mali, thousands of French troops have spent nearly a decade battling extremists, but security has not improved and the reach of armed groups has extended from its desert north. at its most populated center. Malians blamed the French for the dire situation in their country, and last year the French ambassador and several French media outlets were expelled, while all his troops were withdrawn under strong pressure from the Malian government.

A similar scenario played out in Burkina Faso, where Islamist militants have made inroads since 2015 and threatened to destabilize neighboring countries. In recent months, analysts and officials have warned that Burkina Faso could turn to the Russian mercenary group Wagner, to recover lost territories, a scenario which in Mali has brought some results on the ground but has also resulted in dozens. civilian deaths.

In December, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo accused authorities in Ghana’s neighbor Burkina Faso of signing an agreement with Wagner. “Seeing them operating on our northern border is particularly distressing for us in Ghana,” Mr Akufo-Addo said.

However, this presence has not been confirmed.

General Didier Castres, former deputy chief of staff for operations in the French army, previously stationed in neighboring Mali, echoed Mr Ouedraogo’s statement. “As long as Wagner does not intervene, I think France will keep the doors open,” he said.