French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday he was awaiting “clarification” from Burkina Faso’s new junta leader over a report that authorities in the West African country had ordered hundreds of French troops to leave within a month.
Macron said at a press conference in Paris that the message from Burkina Faso was “confusing” with junta leader Ibrahim Traore away from the capital Ouagadougou.
Burkina Faso’s national broadcaster, RTB, reported on Saturday that the junta government had decided on Wednesday to end the French military presence in the country. RTB cited the official Agence d’Information du Burkina as the source of the announcement.
“I think we have to be very careful,” Macron said of the report, citing the potential interference from Russia and the need to ensure there was no “manipulation” of information.
Anti-French sentiment has grown in Burkina Faso, a former French colony, since Traoré came to power in September. Traoré was more openly open to cooperation with other countries, especially Russia.
Protesters took to the streets in Ouagadougou this month to call for the ouster of the French ambassador and the closure of a French military base north of the capital. About 400 French special forces soldiers are currently stationed there, TBEN reported.
France has withdrawn its troops from Mali after nine years of fighting Islamist extremists alongside regional forces. Many of the French soldiers are now stationed in Niger and Chad.