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France’s Final Weekend in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso announced on Sunday that operations by the French army in the jihadist-hit West African state were officially over, after bilateral relations soured in recent months. Senior officers from Burkinabe and French forces in the country held a flag-lowering ceremony to mark the occasion at a camp on the outskirts of the capital Ouagadougou on Saturday, Burkina’s army said in a statement. Last month France confirmed it would withdraw its contingent of hundreds of troops stationed in Burkina Faso, after the junta ruling the Sahel country demanded the force pull out within four weeks. The request came days after Burkina’s Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela declared Russia to be a “reasonable” choice of new partner in the anti-jihadist fight. As French forces quit the region, there is concern among Western countries over the increasing influence of Russia, in particular the presence of mercenaries from the Wagner group run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin. France’s military disengagement, including equipment and materials, will be finalised by a logistics team deployed for this purpose, the Burkina Faso army statement said.