Burkina Faso has decided to expel the military attaché of the French embassy, accused of “subversive activities”, who has fifteen days to leave the country, according to an official letter consulted on Friday September 15 by Agence France -Press (AFP).
“The government of Burkina Faso has decided (…) to withdraw the approval of Mr. Emmanuel Pasquier, defense attaché at the French embassy in Burkina Faso for subversive activities,” wrote the Burkinabe foreign ministry in a letter addressed Thursday to Paris, giving Mr. Pasquier and his team “two weeks to leave the territory.” The letter does not provide any explanation concerning the “subversive activities” accused of the defense attaché.
This accusation “is obviously fanciful”, immediately reacted a spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs interviewed by AFP.
Since Captain Ibrahim Traoré and his men came to power following a coup in September 2022 – the second in eight months in the country – relations have only worsened between Paris and Ouagadougou, although diplomatic ties are not formally severed. As in neighboring Mali, Paris refused to work with the junta to ensure the country's security, especially since Burkinabe leaders, for their part, sought to diversify their partners in the fight against terrorism, by opening the door to possible cooperation with Russia and the Wagner Group mercenaries – without their presence being confirmed in the country.
More than 6,000 deaths since the start of 2023
In March, Burkina Faso denounced a military agreement concluded in 1961 with France, a few weeks after demanding and obtaining the withdrawal of the French Saber force, the name of the tricolor special forces operation in the Sahel, prey to violence. jihadists.
The government had also requested the permanent departure of French personnel serving in the Burkinabé military administrations. The French ambassador to Ouagadougou was recalled after the coup of September 2022. He was not replaced.
Mr. Traoré had also questioned the effectiveness of the presence of French soldiers in Burkina Faso as part of the anti-jihadist fight, whose departure he demanded in January. His country has since been seeking new cooperation. A Russian delegation spoke with Mr. Traoré in Ouagadougou at the end of August on questions of development and military cooperation and Captain Traoré went to Saint Petersburg in July for the Russia-Africa summit.
Since 2015, in the wake of its neighbors Mali and Niger, also led by the military, Burkina Faso has been caught in a spiral of violence perpetrated by jihadist groups affiliated with the Islamic State organization and Al-Qaida. They have caused more than 6,000 civilian and military deaths since the start of 2023, according to the NGO Acled.