Nervousness is growing in Ouagadougou. The military regime of Burkina Faso, led by Captain Ibrahim Traoreannounced on Saturday that it was blocking “all distribution channels” of the French newspaper Le Monde after publishing an article about a bloody jihadist attack in the north of the country the day before.
“The government has responsibly decided to close all distribution channels of the newspaper Le Monde in Burkina Faso from Saturday, December 2, 2023,” said the statement from the government spokesman and communications minister. Rimtalba Jean Emmanuel Ouédraogowhich refers to publishing a “biased article.”
The French newspaper had used data to question the figures presented by the military junta on anti-jihadist operations in the north of the country, in which dozens of civilians may have been murdered, as well as the general record in the war against the Islamists. The uprising continues. He is gaining ground even as the military junta boasts of progress.
The article also reported the arrest of two anti-government activists and considered the possibility that authorities had transferred them to the front lines. A “modus operandi” that they have already repeated on other occasions with opposition leaders, journalists or prominent figures in civil society.
The military junta’s move comes a day after Burkinabe’s prime minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambèlawill accuse France of inciting rebellions against the military junta that has led the country since a 2022 coup, as relations between the two nations continue to deteriorate.
“Until recently, the coups against the interim regime in Burkina were sponsored by the French government,” the Burkinabe prime minister said in a state of the nation address. “Terrorism in the Sahel was mainly instigated by the French government with the aim of taking direct control of these areas,” he added.
De Tambèla made the comments after the country’s authorities announced in early September the arrest of three soldiers accused of a “military conspiracy” against the ruling junta. A few days later, on September 15, the government ordered the defense attaché of the French embassy in the country to leave its territory for carrying out “subversive” actions.
Tensions grew even worse at the end of the month when authorities announced a failed coup attempt that had been stopped “by the intelligence and security services.”
De Tambèla’s speech also came amid growing hostility to France from Burkina Faso’s interim government. Burkina Faso has seen protests marked by strong anti-French sentiment since last year, with demonstrators repeatedly calling on the country’s authorities to ally with Russia to fight jihadist groups.
Since April 2015, there have been repeated attacks in the country by jihadist groups linked to both Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. In addition, they carried out two coups last year: one on January 24th under the leadership of Lt. Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba and another on September 30, led by Traoré.
The military’s seizure of power in both cases followed discontent between the population and the army over jihadist attacks that have displaced more than two million people.