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France: Burkina Faso Requested Withdrawal of Ambassador

FILE - France's President Emmanuel Macron looks on upon the arrival of Sweden's Prime Minister for a working lunch at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on Janu. 3, 2023.

The French foreign ministry on Tuesday said it had received a letter from Burkina Faso authorities in December requesting the departure of Frances's ambassador from the West African nation.

The ministry said the move was "not standard practice," with the Burkinabe government declining to officially comment on reports it sent the request to Paris last month.

"We have indeed received a letter from the Burkinabe transitional authorities. This is not standard practice and we have no public comment to make in response," the French ministry's spokeswoman told Reuters in an emailed comments.

The whereabouts and status of French Ambassador Luc Hallade could not immediately be confirmed. The embassy in Ouagadougou declined to comment.

The supposed expulsion signals a further deterioration in relations between France and Burkina Faso, a former French colony in West Africa where France maintains strong ties and has special forces stationed.

Protests by opponents of the French military presence have soared there this year, partly linked to perceptions that France has not done enough to tackle an Islamist insurgency that has spread in recent years from neighboring Mali.

The prolonged insecurity led to political instability and military coups in August 2020 and May 2021 in Mali, and in January 2022 and September 2022 in Burkina Faso.

Angry mobs targeted the French embassy, cultural center and military base in Burkina Faso on the day of the second coup and on Nov. 18.

They demanded France leave and called on the interim military authorities to ask Russia for help fighting the insurgents, like in Mali.

Last month, Burkinabe authorities ordered senior U.N. official Barbara Manzi to leave the country. She was accused of painting a negative picture of the security situation.