Burkina Faso cuts French military ties in extremist fight

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Burkina Faso ended its military collaboration with France, the second West African nation to sever defense links that were forged to combat a decade-long extremist insurgency in the region.

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The government on Jan. 18 criticized a 2018 agreement that enabled the troops to operate in Burkina Faso, according to a letter sent by the nation’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to its French counterpart seen by Bloomberg. Foreign ministry officials from both countries acknowledged the authenticity of the letter.

Agence d’Information du Burkina Faso, a state-owned news agency, reported on Jan. 21 that the government had given the French troops one month to leave the country.

Ties between Burkina Faso and France have frayed since soldiers seized control of the country in September, the second coup in eight months. Interim President Ibrahim Traore said Jan. 17 the junta is reviewing its relations with “certain nations including France.”

French troops withdrew from neighboring Mali after a 2020 coup in the former French colony and the deployment of the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked Russian private military company.

Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyélem de Tambèla said after a visit to Moscow last month that he wants Russia to become an ally in the fight against militants.

France currently has about 400 special forces stationed in Burkina Faso contributing to counter-insurgency efforts in the region.

Read more:

Presumed extremists abduct about 50 women in Burkina Faso: Sources

West African chief vows support for extremist-torn Burkina Faso

UN calls for ‘impartial probe’ after 28 killed in Burkina Faso

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