Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed earlier claims by French President Macron of interfering in Burking Faso on Tuesday. Earlier in January, the African country’s government demanded that French troops leave the country within a month.
“Colonial hubris” is the reason why France does not accept African countries’ sovereign decisions and blames Russia for interfering, Bayala Lianhoue Imhotep, Burkinabe civil society leader and political analyst, told Sputnik in an interview.
It must be said that what prevents Paris from accepting that the initiative [to demand French troops withdrawal] comes from Ouagadougou is quite simply colonial pride. It’s hard for an ex-tormentor to admit that his victim is taking the initiative for victory. And obviously, from a psychological point of view, French politicians are not used to receiving injunctions from Africa, from the former colonies and by default updating the colonial file.
The French military is present in Burkina Faso in accordance with a 2018 agreement, aimed at countering the jihadist threat. The West African state and former French colony is among the countries most affected by an Islamist insurgency, which started in 2011 in the Sahel region.
In September 2022, a military government led by Captain Ibrahim Traore came to power in Burkina Faso after a coup. Since, there has been a deterioration of relations between the African country and the former metropolitan power. The government suspended the broadcast of French state-owned RFI Radio and declared the French Ambassador Luc Hallade persona non grata.
Recently, demonstrations gathered in Ouagadougou to demand that Hallade leave.
Commenting on the French reaction to the development of the situation, the analyst said that French foreign policy is characterized by “a lack of anticipation […] in relation to the social dynamics of African societies, to the dynamics of African opinion.”
“It is a form of ‘infantilization’ which will have more harmful effects for France because it is unable to conceive of African opinion as a sovereign opinion, capable of being indignant and capable of making strategic choices which are good for its destiny, good for its development, good for the happiness of its people,” Bayala underlined.
Earlier, France’s President Macron accused Russia of pursuing a “predatory project” in Mali, which is also situated in the Sahel region and is in circumstances similar to those in Burkina Faso. An anti-terrorist French military mission under the label of Operation Barkhane operated in Mali from 2014 to 2022. Relations between Mali and France became strained after the 2021 coup, leading to the withdrawal of French troops in August 2022.
According to Bayala, African countries started viewing France as a “true enemy”, but in response, the former colonial power claimed that “any action against France, in Africa or in Burkina is Russian manipulation.”