OUAGADOUGOU - Burkina Faso has scrapped a 1961 agreement on military assistance with France, a move that comes only weeks after it told the French ambassador and troops supporting its anti-jihadist campaign to quit the country.

The Burkinabe foreign ministry advised the French government that the country was "renouncing the technical military assistance agreement reached in Paris on April 24 1961," according to the correspondence, dated February 28.

The accord was forged between the newly independent Republic of Upper Volta, as Burkina Faso used to be called, and its long-time colonial power.

It is one of the legal bases for French military support in the deeply troubled Sahel state.

In the correspondence, seen by AFP on Wednesday, the ministry said Burkina was giving one month's notice for "the final departure of all French military personnel serving in Burkinabe military administrations."

The move marks a further downward spiral in relations since the military toppled Burkina's elected president last year.

The breakdown mirrors to a large degree a bust-up between France and neighbouring Mali, which is also junta-ruled.

Both nations have been battered by a long-running jihadist insurgency that in Burkina alone has killed thousands and forced more than two million people to flee their homes.

Anger within the Burkinabe military at failures to roll back the insurgency led to two coups last year.

Separately, several thousand protesters gathered Wednesday in Diapaga, the capital of the eastern province of Tapoa, to demand better security.

The rally was prompted by an attack on a nearby village on Sunday, which local inhabitants and a security source said left three dead.

Protesters accused the government of inaction and said the security forces had abandoned the area before attack.

"We can't be left at the mercy of hordes of terrorists," said protestor Issa Lankoande.

The country's latest ruler is Captain Ibrahim Traore, who seized power last September.

Aged just 34, he became the world's youngest leader outside monarchies.

He has vowed to recover land seized by the jihadists but, as in Mali, emphasised national "sovereignty" over the strategy.

In both countries, tensions with France at government level have been accompanied by anti-French demonstrations and criticism on social media.

On January 18, Burkina asked France to withdraw its ambassador, Luc Hallade, after he made comments about the country's security problems. He was pulled out, ostensibly for consultations.

Burkina also gave France a month to pull out a special forces unit of 400 men that was based near the capital. The French flag was lowered on the base last month.

France withdrew the last of its troops from Mali last year, climaxing a break-up that was largely triggered by the junta's growing alliance with Russia.

 

 

 

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