Burkina Faso confirms demand for French troop withdrawal
BBC World Service
Burkina Faso has confirmed that it wants 400 French troops stationed there to leave within a month.
Government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo said the country, which is battling jihadist extremism, wanted to defend itself.
French President Emmanuel Macron had asked the authorities to clarify their position after state media reported on Saturday that Burkina Faso was ending an agreement signed between the two countries in 2018.
The report said the Burkinabe authorities still wanted support from France in the form of equipment.
Mr Macron had said there was "great confusion" over the reported comments.
Last year, French troops pulled out of neighbouring Mali after falling out with the military leaders of that country. France also ended its eight-year anti-jihadist operation in the Sahel known as Operation Barkhane.
France has kept close military ties with many of its former colonies in West Africa and has been helping several of them fight Islamist militants who are active across the region.
Hundreds of supporters of the military regime in Burkina Faso have staged a demonstration in the capital, Ouagadougou, calling for the removal of French troops.
The protesters also demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador and for a closer relationship with Russia.
Giant posters of President Vladimir Putin were carried by the crowd, along with portraits of the leaders of the two other military juntas in West Africa - Mali and Guinea.
France's influence in the region has weakened markedly in recent years, in part because of the failure of its forces serving in Operation Barkhane to thwart an Islamist insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced millions from their homes.
The Russian private military, the Wagner Group, has been deploying mercenaries to several countries in the Sahel, including, reportedly, Burkina Faso.
The government has no money and jihadists attack the military convoys that attempt to deliver food and other essential items to those in need.
The announcement is probably a reaction to the kidnapping last week of about 50 women as they foraged for wild berries in the north of the country.
With violence preventing farmers from going to their fields and nearly one million people living in areas blockaded by the militants, more and more people are going hungry.
One man said even leaves were running out.
About 10% of the population has been displaced by a seven-year insurgency with more than a third of the country outside government control.
Burkina Faso's embattled army pleads for free lorries
BBC World Service
The army in Burkina Faso has called on companies to provide for free lorries and drivers to transport food and other essential items to volatile areas.
Militant groups have been blockading parts of the country and frequently target military convoys delivering supplies.
Last week about 50 women were kidnapped by suspected jihadists while foraging in the north of the country.
An airlift is under way to take food to the area.
Burkina Faso's military leader, Capt Ibrahim Traoré, said the Islamists had entered another phase, focusing their attacks on civilians.
First mass kidnap in Burkina Faso could signal new tactic
Historically, mass abductions of women have been affiliated with Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria.
But following the recent kidnap of dozens of women there are now concerns that this could be the beginning of a new development in Burkina Faso, where large swathes of territory have fallen under the control of Islamist extremists.
The country went through two coups last year, with each new military leader promising to tackle insecurity. But so far none of them have been successful.
Insurgents have blocked part of northern Burkina Faso and attacked humanitarian convoys delivering aid to the area.
This has led to acute food shortages.
The women who were abducted were said to have gone to look for fruit, leaves and seeds to feed their families, when they were taken.
UN, US demand release of kidnapped Burkina Faso women
BBC News, Abidjan
UN, the US and France have called for the unconditional release of dozens of women
kidnapped in Burkina Faso’s northern Soum province between 12 and 13
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said he
was “alarmed” by the kidnappings in “the first attack of this type deliberately
targeting women” in Burkina Faso.
The US State Department said it was deeply concerned.
"Those abducted must be returned safely to their loved ones immediately and unconditionally, and those responsible should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
In a statement, France condemned the
kidnappings and called for the women's immediate release.
No group has said it
was behind the abductions but the kidnappings took place in an area where
militants are active
Burkina Faso soldiers search for kidnap victims
Africa editor, BBC World Service
The military government in Burkina Faso says it is searching for around 50 women who have been abducted by Islamist militants in the north of the country.
It is the first time the government has acknowledged the kidnappings.
The women were seized on Thursday and Friday. They had been gathering leaves and fruit near the town of Arbinda because of a severe food shortage.
Captain Ibrahim Traore seized power in September accusing his predecessor of failing to address the jihadist insurgency.
The UN says 1.7 million people in Burkina Faso have been displaced as a result of the violence.
Russia 'to work' with Burkina Faso to fight terror
The world through its media
Russia says it is planning to work with Burkina Faso to
develop strategies to fight terrorism in the West African nation,
state-owned news agency AIB reports.
This emerged following a meeting between Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela and Russian ambassador accredited to Burkina Faso, Alex Saltynov.
"We will develop a roadmap for bilateral co-operation.
And from this, we will see what Russia could bring to Burkina Faso within the
framework of security and the fight against terrorism," the Russian envoy
was quoted as saying.
Burkina Faso appears to be progressively embracing Russia under the influence of neighbouring Mali, where diplomatic relations with France collapsed last year over the deployment of mercenaries from the Wagner Group.
In December, the interim prime minister's visit to Russia triggered rumours of the presence of Russian mercenaries in the country.
Burkina Faso asks French ambassador to leave - report
The world through its media
Burkina Faso has asked France to recall its
ambassador, Luc Hallade, after several tense exchanges with the military
junta that have strained relations between the two countries, Paris-based
pan-African publication Jeune Afrique reported on Monday, citing
unnamed sources in Paris.
Burkina Faso's Foreign Affairs Minister Olivia
Rouamba reportedly wrote to the French presidency "at the end
of December" demanding a change of representative.
The development comes less than two weeks after
Burkina Faso expelled UN resident coordinator Barbara
In November, the French embassy in Ouagadougou
accused Burkina Faso of failing
to provide adequate protection to its premises, which were
attacked during anti-French protests last year.
In July, Ambassador Hallade was
forced to apologise for comparing militant violence in
Burkina Faso to a civil war.
Burkina Faso is increasingly embracing Russia,
seemingly under the influence of Mali which cut diplomatic ties with France
last year after Paris condemned Bamako's use of Russian mercenaries.
Bodies of 28 people shot dead found in Burkina Faso
The authorities in Burkina Faso have launched an investigation into the circumstances of the deaths of 28 people whose bodies were found in the north-western town of Nouna.
In a statement, the government said the killings were discovered on the night of 30 December and condemned the "unacceptable violence".
The Reuters news agency quotes prosecutors as saying that the victims were killed by gunfire, but there was no indication on the possible
perpetrators or motive for the attacks.
The authorities have called for calm pending the outcome of the investigation.
"This drama occurs at a time when Burkina Faso has initiated an operation of
mobilisation of the whole people for unity of action in the fight against
terrorism," the government statement said.
A rights group said the dead were civilians who had been targeted by a civil defence force recently launched by the government to help fight an Islamist insurgency. There has been no confirmation of this.
The West African country is battling an Islamist insurgency has already displaced nearly two million people, and prompted two military coups within a year.
US drops Burkina Faso from Africa free trade deal
BBC World Service
Burkina Faso has repeated its commitment to restoring constitutional rule within 18 months following a decision by the US to drop it from its preferential trade programme.
The American Trade Representative's office said the country had failed to meet the requirements of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) because it had acted unconstitutionally.
There were two military coups in Burkina Faso last year, sparked by the authorities' inability to control an intensifying Islamist insurgency.
Agoa gives sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US as long as they meet certain eligibility requirements, including progress towards democracy.