France defies pressure by Burkina junta for envoy’s withdrawal
France’s foreign ministry is backing its ambassador in Burkina Faso despite a request by authorities there to replace him amid mounting anti-French sentiment in the country.
“I would like to express my support and our support for our ambassador and for all the embassy staff, who are doing a remarkable job in conditions which, as you know, are difficult,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on Thursday (5 January), adding that the letter had requested a change of envoy. Last month, Ouagadougou had sent a letter requesting the departure of France’s ambassador Luc Hallade, a move the French government described as “not standard practice”. Relations between France and Burkina Faso, a former French colony in West Africa, have deteriorated after prolonged insecurity caused by armed groups led to political instability and military coups in January and September 2022.
In a separate development, the military junta in Burkina Faso has launched an investigation into an attack that saw at least 28 people killed over the weekend. Attacks targeting the security forces and civilians have increased in recent months, especially in northern and eastern regions bordering Mali and Niger, countries also battling a jihadist insurgency. The government in Ouagadougou says it remains “fundamentally opposed to any form of abuse or human rights violations on any grounds“. One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina Faso has already seen two coups by disgruntled army officers last year that have put the military in power.