Burkina Faso Expels Three French Diplomats Amid Mounting Tensions

Burkina Faso expels 3 French diplomats, accusing them of "subversive activities," further straining relations with its former colonial ruler. This reflects the country's shift towards Russia and away from the West amid a worsening security crisis.

Israel Ojoko
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Burkina Faso Expels Three French Diplomats  Amid Mounting Tensions

Burkina Faso Expels Three French Diplomats Amid Mounting Tensions

Burkina Faso has expelled three French diplomats, accusing them of engaging in "subversive activities" and ordering them to leave the country within 48 hours. The diplomats, identified as Gwenaelle Habouzit, Herve Fournier, and Guillaume Reisacher, were declared "persona non grata" by the Burkinabe government.

The French government has rejected the allegations, stating that there were no legitimate grounds for the expulsions and calling the accusations "unfounded". France condemned the move and said it can only be deplored.

This latest incident is a further sign of the deteriorating relations between Burkina Faso and its former colonial ruler, France. Since a military coup in September 2022, the junta led by Captain Ibrahim Traore has been distancing the country from France. The Burkinabe government has withdrawn the French ambassador, cancelled a 1961 military accord, and ordered the withdrawal of French troops.

Burkina Faso has increasingly turned to Russia for security support, while also strengthening ties with neighboring Mali and Niger, which are also under military rule. The three countries have formed the Alliance of Sahel States to combat terrorism in the region.

Why this matters: The expulsion of the French diplomats highlights the growing anti-Western sentiment and the shift towards Russia and China in Burkina Faso and other West African nations. This trend could have significant implications for regional stability and the fight against jihadist groups in the Sahel.

In December 2022, Burkina Faso expelled two French nationals working for a local company on allegations of espionage. Additionally, four French officials were arrested, charged, and imprisoned in the capital Ouagadougou in late 2023.

The Burkinabe government did not provide specific details about the alleged "subversive activities" of the expelled diplomats. However, sources suggest that the expulsions may be related to meetings the diplomats had with civil society members.

France has ended its anti-jihadist military missions in Mali and Burkina Faso and has begun withdrawing forces from Niger. The French foreign ministry has yet to officially comment on the expulsions.

The expulsion of the French diplomats comes amid a growing humanitarian crisis in Burkina Faso, as the country battles terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh. The military junta has faced criticism for its crackdown on freedom of speech and its approach to dealing with the security challenges.

Key Takeaways

  • Burkina Faso expels 3 French diplomats, accusing them of "subversive activities".
  • France rejects the allegations, calling the expulsions "unfounded" and "deplored".
  • Burkina Faso distancing itself from France, turning to Russia for security support.
  • Expulsions highlight growing anti-Western sentiment in Burkina Faso and West Africa.
  • Expulsions come amid humanitarian crisis and criticism of Burkina Faso's military junta.