Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu stated in an interview published on Sunday that France has not ruled out withdrawing its special forces from Burkina Faso, where protests against the French military presence have been growing.
Resentment in the former French colony has been rising as a result of years of anti-jihadist operations that have failed to stop insurgency attacks that have killed thousands of people and displaced millions of others from their homes. In order to disperse a mob of several hundred protesters heading toward the French embassy in Ouagadougou on Friday, the police employed tear gas. A six-month assessment of France’s military approach to the region has been launched by French President Emmanuel Macron. As relations with the military leadership deteriorated, he withdrew French troops from neighboring Mali early this year. As a result, there are currently just about 3,000 French soldiers in the Sahel, down from 5,500. Lecornu stated, “We are working on reorganizing our current military bases. They need to keep some capacities, for example, to protect our residents, but also shift more toward training local troops.