Burkina Faso rally calls for ‘sovereignty’ without France, endorses junta in power
Several thousands of demonstrators rallied in Burkina Faso’s capital on Saturday (28 January) in support of the ruling junta, a few days after the confirmation of the departure of France special forces from the country by February.
Packing Nation Square in central Ouagadougou, demonstrators held signs bearing slogans including “Down with imperialism,” “Down with French policy in Africa” and “Forward for Burkina’s sovereignty.” With growing anti-French sentiment in the region, also the presence of French soldiers on Burkina Faso’s soil has recently come under intense scrutiny. “We do not want any more foreign military bases on our soil,” Lazare Yameogo, spokesperson for the Inter-African Revolutionary Movement told the crowd. “We want respect and a win-win cooperation.
With anti-France feelings running high in Burkina Faso and many of its former colonies in West Africa, Paris is being forced to retreat ever further from the increasingly unstable region and re-think its presence, experts say. Moreover, as the French influence in the wider region has shrunk, it faces growing competition from Russia. Hence, after the French troops were last year forced out of Mali by the ruling junta there, the army officers running neighboring Burkina Faso followed suit last week, asking Paris to withdraw its troops from the country next month. Anger within the military at the government’s failure to stem the insurgency, which has raged since 2015, killing thousands and displacing 2 million people, fueled two coups in Burkina Faso last year.