France asks Burkina Faso to clarify troop departure reports
PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday he was awaiting “clarifications” from Burkina Faso’s new junta leader following a report saying authorities in the West African country ordered hundreds of French troops to leave within a month.
Macron said during a news conference in Paris that the message from Burkina Faso were “confusing” with junta leader Ibrahim Traore away from the capital, Ouagadougou.
Burkina Faso’s national broadcaster, RTB, reported Saturday that the junta government had decided 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 must be very careful,” Macron said about the report, mentioning Russia’s possible interference and the need to make sure that there was no “manipulation” of information.
Anti-French sentiment has grown in Burkina Faso, a former French colony, since Traore seized power in September. Traore has been more overtly open to working with other countries, notably Russia.
Protesters took to the streets of 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 based there, France 24 reported.
France finished withdrawing its troops from Mali after nine years fighting Islamic extremists alongside regional troops. Many of the French soldiers are now based in Niger and Chad instead.
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