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African – French Relations Continue to Sour as French Journalists Are Expelled from Burkina Faso

The editorial boards of “Le Monde” and “Libération” announced, on Sunday, that the correspondents of the two French newspapers in Burkina Faso were expelled on Saturday evening from the country, describing the measure as “arbitrary” and “unacceptable.”

The journalists received the news that they were ordered to leave the country within 24 hours by agents from the Burkinabe state security agency. The latter had presented themselves, in civilian clothes, at the journalist’s homes on Saturday morning April 1st. They both reached Paris this Sunday morning.

The publication on March 27 of the Libération investigation into the circumstances under which a video was filmed showing soldiers committing the unthinkable, execution of children, had enormously infuriated the ruling military junta in Burkina Faso. And it is one of the main reasons for the expulsion.

Le Monde wrote on its website, announcing the news, that its journalist Sophie Douce was expelled from Burkina Faso with her coworker, Agnѐs Faivre, a correspondent for Libération.

Adding and citing from the newspaper's director, Jérôme Fenoglio, who wrote that he, in the name of Le Monde, asked the concerned authorities to immediately halt the oppression of the media and to restore its freedom as well as the freedoms of thought and speech.

Sophie Douce was rightfully exercising her job as a journalist in Burkina Faso. Since 2018 in the country, she has covered stories for Le Monde, Ouest-France, L'Express and for radio Medi1. She has covered almost everything, up to the most minute and minuscule detail in this little west African country with passion, rigor and independence. Her work on populations displaced by jihadist violence earned her the Varenne Prize in 2022.

For its part, " Libération " said that after this decision, the freedom in Burkina Faso, especially the freedom of press, are seriously threatened to fall under complete control and restrictions under a more militarized government. 

Burkina Faso, ruled by military forces that came to power after the unfolding of two coup d’états in 2022 and facing a swarm of deadly and bloody jihadist attacks had cut off the broadcast of multiple channels.

 In early December, the military junta in the West African country suspended the broadcasting of Radio France International (RFI) and France 24 who both belong to the same media group. The radio station is accused of broadcasting an intimidating and quite scary message attributed to a high ranking terrorist individual.

The French news channel France 24 is actively accused of having broadcasted the interview, three weeks earlier, of Abou Obeida Youssef Al-Annabi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

This group is one of the many jihadists terrorist armed groups active in Burkina Faso, who continue on gaining more and more power, control and territory. They have been spreading nothing but terror and bloodshed among the local populations. Only French media have so far been sanctioned by the authorities of Burkina Faso.

Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo, a spokesman for the Burkina Faso government, wrote on his Twitter account, that every attempt to go against the image of the army will be strongly condemned after the display of this investigation, stressing that the army operates while strictly respecting international human rights law.

 Ibrahim Traoré (the author of the Coup d’état) is putting increasing pressure, like other coup leaders on neighboring countries, on the media, especially those who are particularly and staunchly critical of the army’s actions. Since his arrival at the highest position in the state, hate messages and calls for violence against journalists have greatly multiplied.

On February 19, the Burkina Faso army announced the end of the operations of the French “Saber” force in the country, 3 weeks after the transitional government denounced and cut the defense agreements linking the two countries.

 Since the seizure of power by Captain Ibrahim Traoré on September 30, 2022, the second coup in eight months in Burkina, relations with Paris have deteriorated, Ouagadougou have called on the removal of the French ambassador and the 400 French special forces soldiers based in the country. The latter eventually happened.

In early March, Burkina pulled out of a military assistance agreement signed with its former colonizer France in 1961.

 Edited by : Ritaja Kar




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