This is a new stage in the shady relationship between the regime in power in Burkina Faso since 2022 and France. The Burkinabe foreign ministry expelled three French diplomats, including two political advisors at the French embassy, ​​located in Ouagadougou, according to a note of which Agence France-Presse (AFP) obtained a copy, Thursday April 18.

These three diplomats “are declared persona non grata on the territory of Burkina Faso, for subversive activities,” it is written in the document dated Tuesday. The note specifies that they “are requested to leave the territory of Burkina Faso within the next forty-eight hours.” The deputy spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs deemed the accusations against the French “unfounded”. “The decision of the Burkinabe authorities is not based on any legitimate basis. We can only deplore it,” he said, according to AFP.

On December 1, 2023, four French officials – intelligence agents, according to Burkinabe authorities; computer maintenance technicians, according to a French diplomatic source – had been arrested in Ouagadougou, indicted and then incarcerated. They are today under house arrest, according to security sources in Burkina. A year earlier, in December 2022, the Burkinabe government had expelled two French people who worked for a Burkinabe company, suspected by the authorities of being spies.

No French ambassador to Burkina since the coup d’état

Relations between France and Burkina Faso have deteriorated considerably since Captain Ibrahim Traoré came to power in September 2022 through a coup – the second in eight months. A few months after coming to power, the junta denounced a 1961 military agreement with France, after obtaining the withdrawal of French forces. The French ambassador to Ouagadougou, recalled after the coup, has not been replaced since.

In its desire to diversify its partnerships and turn its back on France, Burkina Faso has notably moved closer to Russia and its two neighbors, Mali and Niger, also governed by military regimes. The three countries have been facing recurring jihadist attacks for several years from groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State organization. They also announced in January their departure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) then the creation, at the beginning of March, of an anti-jihadist armed force.