Burkina Faso junta expels French diplomats

Burkina Faso junta expels French diplomats
Burkina Faso military leader Ibrahim Traore | Courtesy-Reuters-Vincent Bado

BBC | Burkina Faso's military junta has expelled three French diplomats, accusing them of "subversive activities".

France said there were "no grounds" to expel the diplomats.

The expulsions are the latest sign of worsening relations between the two nations since Captain Ibrahim Traoré seized power in a coup in 2022.

He has pivoted Burkina Faso towards Russia, ending its close ties with France, the former colonial power.

Russia reopened its embassy in Burkina Faso in December after it was shut more than 30 years ago, while the French ambassador was expelled by the junta the following month.

Russia is also helping the West African state to strengthen its military capabilities to fight jihadists after the junta forced France to shut its military base.

In a letter dated 16 April, the junta gave the diplomats 48 hours to leave after declaring them persona non grata.

It did not give details of their alleged subversive activities, but reports say the diplomats met members of civil society.

In its response, France's foreign ministry said it rejected the "unfounded" accusations made against its embassy staff.

"There were no legitimate grounds for the Burkinabé authorities' decision. We can only deplore it," spokesman Christophe Lemoine was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

Rights groups say the junta has become increasingly intolerant of dissent, going as far as punishing its critics by forcing them to go to the front lines of the battle against jihadists.

Last year, four French nationals were detained after being accused of being intelligence agents.

French sources denied the allegation and said they were IT experts.

In December 2022, two French nationals working for a Burkinabé company were also deported for alleged espionage.

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