Burkina Faso scraps military pact with former colonial ruler
Burkina Faso has officially renounced a military assistance agreement with Paris and has given France 30 days to withdraw all military personnel from the West African country. The French authorities reportedly received formal notice of the decision on Wednesday.
A letter from the Burkinabe Foreign Ministry, dated Tuesday, informed France that Burkina Faso was “renouncing the technical military assistance agreement reached in Paris on April 24 1961,” according to AFP.
The treaty was concluded just months after the former colony of Upper Volta had gained independence from France. It was the legal basis for French military intervention in the country against jihadist militants that have terrorized the Sahel since the 2011 NATO-backed regime change in Libya.
Ouagadougou’s move comes just days after France lowered the flag on its military base near the Burkinabe capital and withdrew some 400 troops that had previously been deployed on a counter-insurgency mission. Ambassador Luc Hallade was recalled to Paris for consultations in mid-January, after Burkina Faso demanded his departure.
Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela has reportedly declared Russia to be a “reasonable” choice of new partner in the fight against the militants. This would make Burkina Faso the third former French colony in Africa to show Paris the door and turn to Moscow for military aid, after Mali and the Central African Republic.
French President Emmanuel Macron has sought to describe the process as a “reorganization” and “not a withdrawal” from the continent. France sought to have a “reduced footprint” in favor of a greater presence of “our African partners,” he said at the Elysee Palace on Monday, ahead of a trip to Angola, Gabon, and the two Congos later this week.
Last month, Paris accused Moscow of “neocolonial political involvement” in Africa, after Russia declared the age of French imperialism over.
“The era when African countries had to ask someone, in particular France, before making a sovereign decision has ended,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press briefing in early February.