Burkina Faso’s Pro-Russia Junta Orders Expulsion of French Diplomats

Burkina Faso’s military junta has ordered the expulsion of three French diplomats, alleging their involvement in “subversive activities.” France countered, asserting there was no valid reason for their expulsion. These expulsions mark a deteriorating relationship between the two nations since Captain Ibrahim Traoré seized power in a coup in 2022. Traoré has shifted Burkina Faso’s allegiance towards Russia, severing its close ties with France, its former colonial ruler. Russia reopened its embassy in Burkina Faso in December, while the French ambassador was expelled by the junta the following month. Furthermore, Russia is aiding Burkina Faso in bolstering its military capabilities to combat jihadists, following the closure of France’s military base by the junta. The junta, in a letter dated 16 April, demanded the diplomats leave within 48 hours, labeling them persona non grata. While specifics of their alleged subversive activities were not disclosed, reports suggest they had meetings with members of civil society.

France’s foreign ministry rejected the accusations, calling them baseless. Christophe Lemoine, a spokesperson, lamented the decision by Burkinabé authorities, citing a lack of legitimate grounds. Rights groups have criticized the junta for its increasing intolerance towards dissent, including punitive actions such as forcing critics to engage in frontline battles against jihadists. In separate incidents, French nationals were detained on allegations of espionage, which French sources denied, asserting they were IT experts or employees of a Burkinabé company.