Ten days after receiving a letter from the Burkinabe junta, in Paris, asking for the replacement of the French ambassador to Burkina Faso, Luc Hallade, and three months after a new coup d’etat in a country where anti-French sentiment is growing, the questions are becoming stronger on the future of the military cooperation that France has maintained until now in the country. In the line of sight: the base of the French special forces installed in Ouagadougou, since 2011, whose departure is more than ever under study, according to concordant sources.
While the Kamboinsin camp, the headquarters of the special forces, was one of the gathering places for demonstrators in favor of the putschists of the September 30, 2022proposals for “reformatting and new methods of cooperation” were made to new Burkinabe officials, according to an official French source. The number of special forces – around four hundred – “will stay here as long as the authorities [du pays] will wish, but in an adapted, more restricted format, certainly with greater involvement with the Burkinabé special forces”, declared, at the end of November 2022, Mr. Hallade following an interview with the new Prime Minister, Apollinaire Joachim Kyélem de Tambèla.
But Paris would still be waiting for a response from the junta. The letter AfricaIntelligence indicated, Thursday, January 5, that the departure of the special forces could take place in February, but this one “is not acted”, we assure the office of the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu. The departure or the resizing of the special forces in Burkina Faso would be linked to the discussions around the future military programming law and a new roadmap for Africa, piloted at the Elysée. Emmanuel Macron’s wishes to the armies, scheduled for January 20, could be an opportunity for clarification.
Being located in Ougadougou allowed the French special forces to have a rear base in West Africa, and to project themselves throughout the Sahel, according to the various missions. In recent years, special forces have been key elements in the neutralization of jihadist leaders, as part of Operation “Barkhane”, which officially ended in November 2022. Called “Sabre”, the special forces device could therefore be relocated to a country where France already has permanent bases, such as Niger, Côte d’Ivoire or Senegal.
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