Russian Federation puts on a show with flags in Burkina Faso amid French military withdrawal

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou in support of the junta, days after France confirmed the withdrawal of its troops from the landlocked African country. Filling the Plaza de la Nation in downtown Ouagadougou, protesters held placards and Russian flags on Saturday. Source: TRT

The former colonial power France has a special operations force based in Ouagadougou, but their presence has come under scrutiny as anti-French sentiment in the region has grown, fueled by Moscow.

Mahamadou Sawadogo, leader of the Burkina Faso-Russia association, said during Saturday’s protest that there are “other possibilities for cooperation” in fighting the militants, especially from Moscow.

Some protesters on Saturday held Russian flags and giant posters depicting the leaders of Mali and Guinea, West African neighbors that, like Burkina Faso, have been ruled by military juntas since the coups.

Monique Yéli Cam, a former presidential candidate and a major figure in the anti-French movement said that the turn toward Moscow and the Wagner PMC “is also a form of sovereignty.”

At the same time, abandoning France in favor of Russia in the fight against the militants did not convince all Burkinabe citizens.

“We demanded the withdrawal of French soldiers. Now that this has been done, we must not let other imperialists in. We must take full responsibility because the fight for real independence in Burkina Faso begins now,” said Ibrahim Sanou, a 28-year-old store worker.

Civil servant Desiree Sanou added: “We have to be prepared to stand up to liberate the country from these hordes of terrorists. We don’t even need Wagner or other forces.”

Recall that the junta of Burkina Faso demanded that France, its former defense partner, withdraw its military from the country. The French Armed Forces have been given 30 days to do so.

The French ambassador to Burkina Faso Luc Allade was expelled from the African country by the military junta, which came to power through a coup d’état in September 2022, the second in a row to seize power last year. The episode is further evidence that the West African nation has seen Moscow as a partner, especially in the security sphere, a role previously played by France.

On October 1, the former French colony suffered its second military coup in nine months.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who seized power, was overthrown by Captain Ibrahim Traore, 34.

French journalists reported that during the shootout, hundreds of people on motorcycles with Russian flags appeared outside the presidential palace. They shouted “enough of the bloc, enough of France” and expressed their support for Russia.

The U.S. warned the junta of the risks of cooperating with the Kremlin. The State Department said in a statement that the country risks plunging into protracted chaos, which continues to reign in several African countries where the Wagner PMCs operate

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