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Burkina Faso Declares Official End Of French Army Operations On Its Soil

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After a flag-lowering ceremony at the camp of the French special troops, France and Burkina Faso declared on Sunday that French military activities in the West African country have come to an end, the Burkinabe army said.

In January, Burkina Faso terminated a military agreement that had permitted French forces to battle insurgents on its soil, citing a desire to defend itself. Burkina Faso offered France one month to evacuate its troops.

Their departure ushers in a new phase in Burkina’s conflict with jihadist organizations affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which have seized vast tracts of territory and uprooted millions of people in the larger Sahel region just south of the Sahara.

The General Staff of the Burkinabe Armed Forces announced in a statement that it had taken part in “a solemn flag-lowering ceremony marking the official end of the Task Force’s operations on Burkinabe soil” alongside the leadership of France’s Sabre special forces.

Following a severe deterioration in relations, which included Burkina Faso asking France to remove its ambassador, over 400 French special forces have left Burkina Faso.

As a result of concerns that France had not done enough to quell the insurgency, protests against the French military deployment grew significantly last year.

A small gathering of anti-French demonstrators has been gathering in Ouagadougou every evening for the past week to keep an eye out for indications of French retreat.

“We don’t want the smallest second added to the scheduled date (of departure). Let them leave and leave our Faso to us,” Amadé Maiga, a member of the group carrying a burkinabe flag and a French tricolor with a red cross through it, stated.

A hint of the complex political undercurrents influencing the area was the fact that several of the group were holding Russian flags.

Military juntas have taken control of Burkina Faso and the neighboring country of Mali during the past two years, promising to strengthen security and look outside of their old friends for support.

Following the Mali junta’s decision to start collaborating with Russian military contractors, France withdrew its troops from the country last year. The interim president of Burkina Faso has denied the presence of such soldiers in the nation after Ghana accused Burkina Faso of recruiting mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group.

In light of France’s declining status in its former colonies, Russian involvement in unrest-ridden African nations has been dubbed “predatory” by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Amadé Compaoré, a 58-year-old demonstrator, said, “Walking with Russia is not a sin … Russia is the solution.”

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