When France no longer shines in Burkina Faso or with its diaspora

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When France no longer shines in Burkina Faso or with its diaspora

French President Emmanuel Macron advocates a renewed partnership with the African continent, but is it too late? Members of the Burkinabe diaspora in Canada want an end to the security crisis in their country of origin, with or without France.

The new self-proclaimed leader of Burkina Faso's ruling military junta, Captain Ibrahim Traoré (center), marches through the streets of Ouagadougou.< /p>

Whether they have lived in Canada for 20 years or arrived last year, members of the Burkinabe diaspora watch with interest and concern what is happening in their country of origin, affected since 2015 by jihadist violence which has left more than 10,000 dead and 2 million displaced.

The military who seized power in a coup last September, the second in eight months in Burkina Faso, asked the 400 French soldiers involved in the fight against jihadist, the Saber force, to leave the country.

A departure greeted with indifference by members of the Burkinabe diaspora in Canada, such as Cheick Oumar Koné, doctoral student at Université Laval in cinema since last year.

If the authorities believe that the departure of France can solve something in this security crisis, it is welcome for me. What worries me is much more the security situation. The method, well, I don't care, he said.

Cheick Oumar Kone, member of the Burkinabe diaspora in Canada and doctoral student at the Laval University in cinema.

This decision by the authorities also does not raise eyebrows Adama Dao, in Canada for 10 years and a Canadian citizen. It makes me laugh when we link the departure from France to insecurity. The crisis went crescendo, even if France was there, he laments.

“I am a little indifferent to to France, whether she leaves or does not leave, the situation has worsened in her presence!

— Adama Dao, member of the Burkina Faso diaspora in Canada

Among other things, he criticizes France for not having prevented the rise of jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, which today control 40% of the country.

Even if French President Emmanuel Macron calls for building a new, balanced, reciprocal and responsible relationship with Africa, countries like Burkina Faso, and Mali before him, are turning their backs on him and looking for x27; other partners. Enter Russia here.

In the streets of the capital Ouagadougou, for several months, pro-Russian flags and speeches have been added to the slogans in favor of the departure of France. The Burkinabe regime, for its part, does not hide its desire to get closer to Moscow. The Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, Apollinaire Kyélem de Tambèla, visited the country of Vladimir Putin last December.

< p>“We would like Russia to take its rightful place, as a great nation, in my country, because there is a history and an experience of Russia and we would like it to share that with We. »

— Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyélem de Tambèla in an interview with Russia Today, a television channel close to the Kremlin

The Russian flag is waved during a demonstration in support of the new ruling junta.

For Burkinabés living in Canada, the rapprochement with Russia receives a mixed reception. Cheick Oumar Kone calls for caution: Each time the French have failed, the Russians try to use this weapon against them. Is this disturbing? Yes […] It is a question of sovereignty. You shouldn't change Peter for Paul. You really have to stay vigilant!

Same story of Adama Dao, who still defends the choice of the authorities. When someone is in a position where they are really trying to defend their territory and they are trying to reassure their population, well, they will take whatever comes their way! I believe it was France who threw Burkina into the arms of Russia today!

The student in the bachelor's degree in administration and president of the Association of Burkinabés living in Quebec, Kienou Pahassi Silvère, says he is aware that the Russian presence makes people react more because of the war in Ukraine, but there is no is not unfavorable. There have been ties for a very long time between several African countries and Russia. For me, if the authorities think it's the best decision to make, we can only follow them, he says.

Russia presents itself as a non-imperialist power to help the Sahel states fight the jihadist threat without having the will to establish itself, but that remains rhetoric, warns the director of the Observatory of the x27;Eurasia, Jean Lévesque.

He adds that it is the Wagner group which obtains the security contracts, this private Russian company which uses mercenaries to fight in countries in crisis.

“Operations there are clearly being conducted by the Wagner Group, rather than Russian military. It will take control of certain natural resources in exchange for security contracts. He doesn't do this for nothing! »

— Jean Lévesque, Director of the Eurasia Observatory

L historian and director of the Eurasia Observatory, Jean Lévesque.

Russia and Burkina Faso deny any presence of Wagner in the country. The presence of these mercenaries has not been clearly documented in the country, but it has been in neighboring Mali.

But there again, says historian Jean Lévesque , we should not think that we are witnessing a Russification of Africa, because China and other countries are already well present on the African continent.

“Realistically, the Chinese are 10-15 years ahead of Russia in terms of economic location. We are talking about 5 billion exchanges compared to 120 for China. She arrives late and there is a big competition in Africa, the Turks are there and the Indians too.

— Director of the Eurasia Observatory, Jean Lévesque

Russia, through Wagner, can still compete with other countries in the field of security as well as in that of propaganda, adds Jean Lévesque.

The doctoral student in communication at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), of Ivorian origin, Denise Kako, considers inappropriate the use of the term anti-French or rejection of France to speak of the situation unfolding in West Africa. According to her, in Mali and Burkina Faso, we are rather witnessing a resistance. African youth are waging a liberation struggle against neocolonialism in general, she says.

“There is a revolt that the younger generation today has taken over. A revolt against practices and a system that has enslaved Africa and Africans for too long. »

— The doctoral student in communication at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Denise Kako

The doctoral student in communication at the University of Quebec in Montreal of Ivorian origin, Denise Kako.

She criticizes what is called aid to Africa, too often used, according to her, by Westerners. Humanitarian aid, development aid, aid, aid, aid! We've heard that so much. Which countries are we really helping? Above all, they are encouraged to return to what are called HIPCs, small highly indebted countries! Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who has ruled the country since the coup and barely 35 years old, is one of its best spokespersons.

It's a young people who are waking up, who are taking matters into their own hands and as far as the leaders are concerned, there is enthusiasm, dedication and I believe that if it continues like this, we will have better results.< /p>

Since the beginning of the year, the country has experienced an intensification of jihadist violence. On February 26, around 60 people were killed in a suspected jihadist attack in Partiaga, eastern Burkina Faso, and this is just one of many examples. x27;other massacres.

The human rights situation in Burkina Faso worries the NGO Human Rights Watch.

In its latest report, the organization denounces above all the attacks by armed Islamist groups against civilians which have intensified, but also those committed by the military forces and their militias during counter-terrorism operations.

“It's a very complex situation where the military forces are fighting what they call an enemy that has no face, but there is a tendency to target certain communities, especially the Fulani, who are perceived as suspects, whereas they are innocent civilians.

—Carine Kaneza Nantulya, deputy Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

Carine Kaneza Nantulya, deputy Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

The danger is that jihadist groups will use the abuses of the security forces to recruit, says the deputy director of the Africa division for Human Rights Watch, Carine Kaneza Nantulya.

The organization also has concerns about shrinking civic space and the right to information. Government rhetoric has hardened and members of civil society and journalists are finding themselves harassed, singled out by the government, she says.

The subject of human rights is a strong reaction to another member of the Burkinabe diaspora interviewed, Kariyon Somé, in Canada for 20 years. How can we talk about human rights when the country is in the hands of jihadists? he wonders.

Human rights, people talk about it because they are far away! Are the Islamic State's approaches arrestable approaches? Can we really arrest and judge them? I feel like it's double standards. My brother is in the army, do we talk about human rights when he is attacked? When soldiers are also attacked? They are also humans! he concludes.

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