Oct 3, 2022 - World

Burkina Faso coup underscores Russia's rise in West Africa

With a Russian flag waving, pro-coup protesters stand atop a UN armored vehicle in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Photo: AFP via Getty

Burkina Faso’s second coup this year had a striking geopolitical dimension.

Driving the news: Capt. Ibrahim Traore grabbed power on Friday from fellow coup plotter Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba, who he accused of failing to deal with Jihadist extremists. Much of the country is largely outside of the government’s control, and violence is getting worse.

  • Supporters of the coup attacked the French Embassy, accusing the French of harboring Damiba, which Paris denied.
  • Meanwhile, Traore’s backers also waved Russian flags and called for military support, per AP. Russian mercenaries are active in neighboring Mali, where they’ve been accused of human rights abuses.
  • France withdrew its last soldiers from Mali last month after a decade-long intervention, but still has a presence with Niger and has been competing with Russia for influence in its former colonies in West Africa.

What they’re saying: The new junta said Saturday that it wanted to move forward with “other partners,” without naming Russia.

  • For its part, the Kremlin said it would "like the situation in Burkina Faso to normalize as soon as possible."
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