On Wednesday 2 November, the president of the transition in Burkina Faso visited his Malian counterpart for a working visit. At the end of their exchange, the two countries decided to take joint action to deal effectively with the terrorist crisis in both countries.
The current strongman of Burkina, who overthrew another strongman by the name of Damiba on 30 September, was welcomed on his arrival at Modibo Keïta Bamako-Senou International Airport at around 15:30 GMT by his Malian counterpart, Colonel Assimi Goïta.
“We have decided to strengthen our bilateral cooperation in security and defence,” said Captain Traoré, for whom the main concern remains the security challenge. “The most important thing for us in the current situation is the security challenge, so with these people, we came to exchange, how to strengthen our military cooperation and be able to better conduct our operations and secure the populations. This is the main objective of the visit,” he said.
Plagued by terrorist violence since 2015 along with its neighbour Mali since 2012, the two countries have in common these attacks that have already claimed thousands of lives and displaced many more across the land. Thus this friendship and working visit to Mali aims to increase the armed struggle against the terrorist groups that plague both nations and to strengthen the Ouagadougou-Bamako axis.
Burkina Faso in Russia’s school?
Furthermore, Captain Traoré’s visit to Mali implies that Burkina Faso may turn to Russia in its fight against terrorism. Moreover, the people of Burkina Faso regularly wave Russian flags and suggest to their leaders that they intensify their relations with Vladimir Putin’s country. At the same time, these populations are increasingly hostile towards the former colonial power. While 400 French special forces soldiers are still present in the country of the Honest Men to help the country fight against this same terrorism.
On 30 October, in an interview on public television, the new Burkinabe Prime Minister, Apollinaire Tembala, said: “Maybe with the new (security) situation, we will re-examine our relations with Russia to see if it should be strengthened in one sector or not, if it should be reoriented in the interest of Burkina Faso and in respect of its sovereignty.
In the Sahel, it is Mali (where Traoré made his first official visit) that is Russia’s main ally. This suggests that Burkina Faso is considering a rapprochement with Russia through the Malian military establishment.
As a reminder, Burkina and Mali are all ruled by the military. Captain Ibrahim Traoré was unanimously appointed president of the transition in Burkina Faso at the end of national meetings in Ouagadougou, after ousting Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba on 30 September. Colonel Assimi Goïta, for his part, was invested on 7 June 2021 as President of the Malian transition.