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‘Subversive’ French embassy top official ordered to leave by the Burkina Faso junta

The military junta in Burkina Faso has issued an order for the French embassy’s defense attaché to leave the country, citing “subversive” behavior, as revealed in a leaked letter obtained by Reuters on Friday.

This expulsion of Attaché Emmanuel Pasquier marks another sign of escalating tensions between Burkina Faso and its former colonial power, France, since the military government came to power through two coups last year.

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France has maintained strong ties with its former colonies and has a military presence across West Africa. However, resentment towards France’s presence has grown following a series of military coups, with some critics perceiving it as interference.

The letter, dated September 14 and confirmed by Reuters, stipulated that Pasquier and his staff had two weeks to depart from Burkina Faso. As of the time of the report, the French embassy in Ouagadougou could not be reached, but a diplomatic source indicated that Pasquier was still in the country.

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France’s foreign ministry stated it was investigating reports of the expulsion and could not provide immediate comments.

The letter did not provide specific details regarding the reasons for Pasquier’s expulsion. It did, however, mention the immediate closure of the defense section of the Burkina Faso embassy in Paris.

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Burkina Faso’s self-appointed transitional government had previously ordered the departure of France’s ambassador and that of senior United Nations official Barbara Manzi. Additionally, there has been a crackdown on French media.

Anti-French sentiment has been on the rise since Burkina Faso first came under military rule in January 2022. Several protests against the French military presence have occurred, partly linked to the perception that France has not done enough to address the jihadist insurgency that has spread from neighboring Mali in recent years.

The prolonged insecurity has contributed to political instability and has prompted two military coups in Mali, two in Burkina Faso, and one in Niger since 2020. Niger’s junta, which seized power at the end of July, expelled the French ambassador last month.

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