France is to complete a total military withdrawal from Burkina Faso after the ruling junta of the West African country demanded on Monday that the around 400 French soldiers stationed there leave within a month, amid speculation that the Burkinabè regime will now turn to the Kremlin-backed Wagner mercenary group for support in its war with jihadist insurgents.
The seizure of power by Captain Ibrahim Traoré in Burkina Faso on September 30th brings to five the number of successful coups d’état that have taken place in West Africa in the last two years. One of the main reasons for these coups has been the failure of the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region, which has led to growing insecurity. Another factor is the increasing role of Russia there. Justine Brabant reports.
In 1987 Burkina Faso's president Thomas Sankara, a revolutionary leader, hero of the pan-Africa movement and fierce opponent of imperialism, was gunned down in a coup d'État. Now, 34 years later, the trial of his alleged assassins is shortly to begin in the capital Ouagadougou. As Rémi Carayol reports, the circumstances of the murder are well known. But what we still do not know is who gave the orders for Sankara's assassination, which brought his Burkina Faso revolution to a bloody end. Nor do we know the role, if any, of foreign powers - including the former colonial power France - in his demise.
French President Emmanuel Macron has held a summit in Pau, south-west France, with leaders of five West African states engaged alongside France in fighting jihadist forces in the Sahel when he announced a further 220 French troops would be sent to the region to join their 4,500 colleagues already on the ground and the creation of a joint command structure with regional states.
In a country beset with spiralling jihadist violence, young people from Burkina Faso’s Fula community are the ideal recruits for armed groups keen to capitalise on the discontent stemming from extreme poverty and the frequent abuses committed by government troops in this part of Africa. And as François Hume and Olivia Macadré report, if they reject the jihadists’ call to arms, they are widely seen as guilty by association.
On Monday November 25th 13 members of the French military were killed when two helicopters crashed in Mali during France's ongoing military operations there. The grim news sparked debates back in France about the country's military involvement in the Sahel region of Africa. But as Mediapart's René Backmann writes, the legacy of France's colonial past and the remnants of its post-colonial approach to the continent known as 'Françafrique' suggest that President Emmanuel Macron's government will be unable to see that military combat against jihadism is not the only response that is needed to tackle the region's instability.
Two French tourists kidnapped while on a safari trip in Benin and who were rescued last week along with two other hostages after their captors transferred them to the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, arrived at a military airfield close to Paris on Saturday where they and a South Korean woman freed with them were greeted by President Emmanuel Macron.
Two French tourists who were taken hostage earlier this month while exploring the Pendjari national park in Benin, when their guide was murdered, arrived back in France on Saturday. They were freed from a location in nearby Burkina Faso by a special forces operation on Friday, during which two French marines lost their lives. The dramatic events have highlighted how jihadist groups have recently begun seizing control of swathes of this region of West Africa, taking advantage of a growing resentment among sections of the population against state authorities. Rémi Carayol reports.
Two marines and four suspected kidnappers died in an exchange of fire when a French special forces unit overnight rescued two French nationals, an American and a South Korean being held hostage in northern Burkina Faso.