In Burkina Faso, after about to 200 protesters gathered on the outskirts of the capital, Ouagadougou, on Sunday, aiming to block a French military convoy that has been trying to reach neighboring Niger from the nearby city of Kaya. The government says it is « working » so that a French military convoy that protesters have been preventing from moving for nearly a week can reach its « final destination » in Mali via Niger.
Alpha Barry, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Foreign Affairs : « The convoy is still on Burkinabe territory and we are working for its departure from our territory so that it can reach Gao (Mali). » He adds that « The government’s message to the demonstrators in Kaya is to ask for their understanding. To ask all the demonstrators to remain calm, to trust the government that the convoy that is destined for the French forces in Gao is not a convoy against Burkina Faso and is not going to arm terrorists. »
To calm the protesters, Alpha Barry, said « We asked France about Inata, and they intervened. We have asked France to intervene in Solhan, and they have done so. We requested France in Djibo in September 2019, they intervened. We asked France to intervene in Koutougou in August 2019. In any case, in many interventions or in many difficult situations that we had and that were difficult to manage because of the limited means of Burkina Faso, it intervened».
The demonstrators believed the convoy was carrying weapons to arm terrorist groups which have spread throughout Burkina Faso, killing thousands of civilians and security forces over the last six years.
Burkina Faso’s Minister of Foreign Affairs added
« We have the wrong enemy here, France is not our enemy. Let me be clear, France is not our enemy. France is an ally in the fight against terrorism. France is with us in the coalition for the Sahel. France is a country that is with us on the ground, and every time we have asked France to intervene, as stipulated in the agreement we have, it has done so when its resources permit. »
French forces are in the region as part of a fight against Islamist militants. Many Burkinabe, however, are upset with France’s role and have directed their anger at French forces.