The French foreign ministry says it received a letter from the Burkinabe authorities in December requesting the departure of France’s ambassador from Burkina Faso.
The French ministry’s spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday by email that it had received such a letter, but declined to give further details or say how it had responded.
The Burkinabe government has declined to comment officially on reports it sent this request to Paris last month.
“We have indeed received a letter from the Burkinabe transitional authorities. This is not standard practice and we have no public comment to make in response,” the French foreign ministry spokeswoman said over email.
The whereabouts and status of French Ambassador Luc Hallade could not immediately be confirmed. The embassy in Ouagadougou declined to comment.
The apparent expulsion signals a further deterioration in relations between Burkina Faso and former colonizer France which maintains strong ties with other former colonies in West Africa and has special forces stationed there.
Protests by opponents of Paris’s military presence surged last year, partly linked to France’s perceived inefficiency in tackling armed groups that have spread their sphere of influence in recent years from neighboring Mali.
The prolonged insecurity led to political instability and military coups in Mali – in August 2020 and May 2021 – and in Burkina Faso – in January and September 2022.
Angry protesters targeted the French embassy, cultural center, and military base in Burkina Faso on the day of the second coup and on November 18. Demonstrators demanded that France leave and called on the interim military authorities to ask Russia for help fighting the rebels, as it is doing in Mali.
After the second coup in Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe government accused France of supporting toppled military leader Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba in planning a counteroffensive.
In late December, Burkinabe authorities ordered senior UN official Barbara Manzi to leave the country, accusing her of painting a negative picture of the security situation.