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Burkina Faso expels 2 French citizens says state broadcaster


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DAKAR, Senegal — The government of Burkina Faso has deported two French nationals accused of spying, state television has announced.

The French nationals were detained last weekend and forced to leave the West African country, according to a Facebook post by Burkina Radio and Television. The message posted on Wednesday evening said French nationals had shown interest in information about Burkina Faso’s security forces.

Two French nationals were questioned last Saturday by Burkina Faso’s armed forces over security-related matters because they worked with a local private company, according to an official from the embassy. France in the capital Ouagadougou, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The diplomat said no espionage was mentioned, adding that the French were not deported but were asked to return to France and they left the same evening.

According to another Western diplomat based in Ouagadougou, who is not authorized to speak to the media, the Frenchman is working for a company affiliated with Nokia, the multinational telecommunications group, which does the work. Install antennas for mobile phones.

France, which has deployed troops in West Africa’s Sahel region since 2013 when it helped push Islamist extremists from power in northern Mali, is facing growing opposition. from governments and ordinary people, who argue that the French presence has done little to prevent jihadist violence from escalating. French forces left Mali this year after relations with Mali’s military junta fractured and, more recently, the country’s relations with Burkina Faso have also deteriorated.

Earlier this month, the government suspended French broadcaster Radio France Internationale for relaying a “threatening message” allegedly from a “terrorist”, according to a statement from the military junta. Anti-French protests have become frequent across the capital with the situation turning critical following the country’s second coup attempt this year in late September, when protesters waved Russian flags attacking and damaged the French embassy, ​​and severely damaged and looted the building housing the French Institute. , which promotes French culture.

Michael Shurkin, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and director of global programs at 14 North Strategies, said: “There is now a clear trend that suggests a final break with France and towards Russia. “This is partly related to public opinion and pressure on the junta to do something about the security situation. And many (Burkina Faso citizens) believe that France is an obstacle in that struggle.”

The leader of the new Burkina Faso administration, Ibrahim Traore, has been more open to cooperation with other international partners, especially Russia. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Apollinaire Joachim Kyelem de Tambela visited Russia to strengthen ties and consolidate efforts to combat the extremist threat in the region, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

It’s unclear how far Burkina Faso will go once away from France, analysts say. The French still have a few hundred special forces with Operation Saber based in the country.

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