Burkina Faso expels 3 French diplomats

Thursday, April 18, 2024
 – The military Junta ruling Burkina Faso on Thursday, April 18, announced the expulsion of three French diplomats for alleged subversive activities.

The junta which disclosed that the diplomats had been given 48 hours to leave the country, did not provide details of the allegations against the expelled diplomats whose names were given as Gwenaelle Habouzit, Herve Fournier and Guillaume Reisacher.

Reuters cited a source with direct knowledge of the situation as saying their expulsion was due to meetings they held with civil society leaders.

The French foreign ministry said in a statement that it regretted the decision to expel its diplomats and rejected the accusations, stating its activities in Burkina Faso were within the United Nations framework for diplomatic and consular relations. "The decision of the Burkinabè authorities is not based on any legitimate basis," said the statement. "We can only deplore it."

Since coming to power in a September 2022 coup, Burkina Faso’s military government has pulled away from France, its former colonial power, kicking out French troops, suspending some French media, and repeatedly accusing French officials of espionage.

On December 1 last year, Burkinabe authorities arrested four French officials with diplomatic passports in the capital, Ouagadougou, and charged them with spying, according to Le Monde newspaper. The officials, who France claims were working as IT support staff, are under house arrest, according to Burkina Faso security sources.

A year earlier, in December 2022, Ouagadougou also expelled two French nationals working for a Burkina Faso company, accusing them of espionage.

As relations with France deteriorate, Burkina Faso has increasingly turned to Russia, Mali and Niger for security assistance as it struggles to contain fighters linked to the armed groups, al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS).

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