French symbols targeted after coup in Burkina Faso – POLITICAL

Supporters of a coup against Burkina Faso’s leader Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba attacked the French embassy in the capital Ouagadougou on Sunday.

According to French news agency AFP, security forces at the embassy used tear gas to disperse protesters as unrest continues to grip the country.

In the second military coup this year, junior soldiers led by Captain Ibrahim Traoré announced on Friday that they had overthrown Burkina Faso’s military government.

Since then, several French icons in the country have come under attack after soldiers accused Damiba of hiding on a French military base and plotting his return to power. France’s cultural institution in Ouagadougou, the Institut Français, suffered “considerable damage”, according to the French Foreign Ministry. A French facility in the country’s second largest city, Bobo Dioulasso, was also attacked.

In a statement, the ministry “strongly condemned the violence against our diplomatic institutions in Burkina Faso.”

Both France and Damiba have denied allegations that he sought refuge at a military base belonging to former colonial power Burkino Faso.

Political instability in Burkina Faso comes as the military struggles to repel a jihadist insurgency in the north and east of the country. According to official figures, more than 40 percent of the country is no longer under government control.

According to the French broadcaster France Info, Russian flags were seen at demonstrations against Damiba on Friday and Saturday, and the new leadership announced that it would “approach partners other than France” in the fight against Islamist terrorism – without naming Russia.

The incidents are reminiscent of the sudden deterioration in relations between France and Mali following the military coups in 2020 and 2021 that led to the ousting of the French ambassador to Mali and France’s decision to withdraw troops from Mali.