Burkina Faso’s army announced on Sunday that operations by the French army in the jihadist-hit West African state were officially over.
Senior officers from Burkina Faso and France’s forces in the country held a flag-lowering ceremony to mark the official end of French operations, at a camp on the outskirts of the capital Ouagadougou on Saturday, Burkina’s army said in a statement.
A landlocked country in the heart of West Africa’s Sahel, Burkina Faso is one of the world’s most volatile and impoverished countries.
It has been struggling with a jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015.
Thousands of civilians, troops and police have been killed, more than two million people have fled their homes, and around 40 percent of the country lies outside the government’s control.
Anger within the military at the mounting toll sparked two coups in 2022, the most recent of which was in September, when 34-year-old Traore seized power.
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He is standing by a pledge made by the preceding junta to stage elections for a civilian government by 2024.
After the ruling junta in Mali forced French troops out last year, the army officers running neighbouring Burkina Faso followed suit, asking Paris to empty its garrison.
Under President Emmanuel Macron, France was already drawing down its troops across the Sahel region, which just a few years ago numbered more than 5,000, backed up with fighter jets, helicopters and infantry fighting vehicles.
About 3,000 remain, but the forced departures from Mali and Burkina Faso — as well as the Central African Republic to the south last year — underline how anti-French winds are gathering force.