Several hundred people demonstrated Friday in Ouagadougou against the French presence and notably demanded the departure of the French ambassador to Burkina Faso, Luc Hallade, noted an AFP correspondent.
At the call of the Collective of Pan-African Leaders (CLP), which brings together organizations favorable to Captain Ibrahim Traoré, in power since the end of September, the demonstrators gathered on the Place de la Nation, in the center of Ouagadougou.
They notably demanded “the departure of the French ambassador” and the closure of the French army base in Kamboinsin, on the northern outskirts of the capital where 400 special forces are stationed.
“We are here to express our total and unwavering support for President Ibrahim Traoré, for the defense and security forces engaged in the fight against terrorism and in their quest for the total sovereignty of our country,” said Mohamed Sinon, one of the main leaders of the group.
“We are a pan-African movement and we want cooperation from Burkina Faso with Russia, but also the strengthening of ties of friendship and cooperation with Guinea and Mali”, whose representatives attended the “meeting of support and peace,” he added.
The demonstrators, mostly dressed in white, carried signs on which one could read: “French army, get out of our house”, “France get out”, or even “Out the arsonist diplomats”.
Giant posters of Malian Presidents Assimi Goïta and Guinean President Mamady Doumbouya, who came to power like Captain Traoré through coups, as well as that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, were also brandished by demonstrators or carefully erected on a podium, in the middle of Burkinabè flags.
France, a former colonial power, is regularly contested in Burkina Faso, a country plagued by jihadist violence partly at the origin of two coups in 2022.
In October and November, demonstrators gathered outside the French Embassy and the Kamboinsin military base, and in December Burkinabè authorities demanded the departure of French Ambassador Luc Hallade after comments deemed offensive.
At the same time, the Ouagadougou authorities have repeatedly affirmed in recent months their desire to strengthen their relations with Moscow.
On January 10, Paris dispatched the Secretary of State to the French Foreign Minister, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, to Ouagadougou to meet the transitional president, Captain Ibrahim Traoré.
“France does not impose anything, it is available to invent a future together”, she insisted, ensuring that she did not want to “influence any choice or any decision, no one can dictate their choices in Burkina”.