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According to a source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs joined by RFI, France received on Tuesday from the Burkinabè authorities the request for the withdrawal of its soldiers deployed in the country. After Mali, it is the second country in the Sahel which requires the French army to leave its territory.
” We will honor the terms of this agreement by complying with this request. “, declared the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the defense agreement signed with Burkina Faso in 2018 and relating to the status of the French forces present in the country. With the denunciation of this text by the junta of Captain Ibrahim Traore, and in accordance with the terms of this military agreement, France has a period of one month to complete the withdrawal of its soldiers making up Operation Saber. These are 400 special forces, housed at the Kamboinsin base, near Ouagadougou.
Earlier this week, Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Olivia Rouamba insisted that her country first wanted to rely on its own army and volunteers for the defense of the homeland. On the same day, the Burkinabè government specified that it was the defense agreement that was denounced by the transitional authorities, but that it was not a question of “ the end of diplomatic relations between the two countries “.
Leave the country in a month
Whereas Barkhane managed to leave Mali in six months, we will now have to repeat this prowess in Burkina, within an even shorter period of one month. Admittedly, Saber is not Barkhane and Kamboinsin, its rear base in Ouagadougou, is in no way comparable to that of Gao in Mali. Nevertheless, moving, in such a constrained time, the 400 special forces will not be an easy task. It is even technically impossible. So to achieve this, it is necessary to resort to a subterfuge and within thirty days, the 400 soldiers will effectively leave the country.
On the other hand, dismantling and moving the hangars for the helicopters in particular will take time, up to three months. But it is not necessarily the French military who will take care of it, the task could, for example, be entrusted to civilian technicians. Paris is currently negotiating an agreement to this effect.
As for the special forces, a part should join Niger and the other Chad. A discreet presence, in line with the new philosophy of French engagement in the Sahel. The name of Operation Saber, too, should disappear.