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Special Report: Burkina Faso Hits Out at France, Ecowas, the UN and Homosexuality

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Bassolma Bazié, Minister of State of Burkina Faso
Minister of State Bassolma Bazié of Burkina Faso blasted numerous major institutions and countries for their “diplomatic hypocrisy.” He also said in his General Assembly speech: “There will be no question of homosexuality” in Africa, Sept. 23, 2023. The junta-led government is turning to Russia more openly to help it counter the increasing inroads being made by jihadists in the West African nation.

Burkina Faso hit out at the “diplomatic hypocrisy” of France, the United Nations and other West African states for their treatment of Sahelian countries and threats to Niger, including its exclusion from speaking at the General Assembly, a story that PassBlue broke last week.

In a 38-minute speech read in the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23, on behalf of Captain Ibrahim Traoré, the president of Burkina Faso’s transitional government, Minister of State Bassolma Bazié criticized France for blocking military supplies to the landlocked West African nation, which has been beset by a jihadist insurgency, and President Emmanuel Macron’s “paternalism” toward Sahelian states.

“While it’s true that the West has raped, violated and robbed Africa, what’s our share of responsibility as African leaders?” he said, adding that African leaders had abandoned their identity, changed their names and become monogamous. “There will be no question of homosexuality here!”

Despite recent visits from senior members of Russia’s ministry of defense and by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Bazié dismissed reports that the country has formally established a relationship with the Wagner Group, the Kremlin-linked paramilitary organization that was formerly controlled by the late Yevgeny Prigozhin and is now absorbed in Russia’s armed forces. [UPDATE, Sept. 28: The military junta government said it foiled a coup attempt in Burkina Faso on Sept. 26]

Bazié proclaimed at the UN’s annual opening debate, or UNGA: “On the question of Wagner’s presence in Burkina Faso, sung by a certain press controlled by the Elysée Palace, I’ll reply as follows: ‘Yes, Mr. President, we are the Wagners of Burkina Faso! Yes, these brave FDS and VDP are the Wagner of Burkina Faso!'” (He was referring to the Defense and Security Forces, or FDS in French, and the Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland, or VDP.)

Burkina Faso's foreign minister, Olivia Rouamba, and her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Sept. 21, 2023, at an office in the United Nations.
Burkina Faso’s foreign minister, Olivia Rouamba, and her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Sept. 21, 2023, at an office in the United Nations, during the annual opening session of the General Assembly. Rouamba told reporters that Russia was planning to reopen its embassy in Burkina’s capital. RUSSIA MFA/TWITTER

The minister added that Burkina Faso would “enter into sovereign partnerships with whomever it chooses and buy its defense assets from whomever it chooses! Whether a country is called Russia, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Nicaragua or North Korea, Burkina Faso will freely buy and sell its products there, without any intermediary, let alone authorization from anyone else; and that, come what may!”

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Burkina Foreign Minister Olivia Rouamba met with Lavrov on Sept. 22, in an office outside the UN Security Council, where he was receiving government officials during the week. She told reporters afterward that the two discussed “cooperation” in security as her country has been facing “a crisis of terrorism” since 2015 and that “procedures are underway to reopen the Russian embassy” in Ouagadougou, Burkina’s capital. She also said that Russia would provide wheat to some African countries that are contending with serious humanitarian problems and that Burkina Faso was among the recipients.

In the General Assembly Hall, Bazié’s speech came almost two months after a coup d’état erupted in Niger, where President Mohammed Bazoum, France’s last military ally in the region, was ousted from office. Days after, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso declared they would form a military alliance if the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), an organization chaired by President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, would follow through on its threat to send troops to Niger to reinstate the toppled president.

Niger’s coup was the sixth in West Africa since 2020. Two of them occurred in Burkina Faso; the second one there happened a week after Lieut. Col. Paul-Henri Damiba spoke before the UN General Assembly in 2022. Rumors that Damiba had traveled to Manhattan with a large entourage, coupled with a photograph of him and his family allegedly dining at an expensive restaurant in the city, circulated on social media, sparking ire among Burkinabé citizens and soldiers in the lead-up to the overthrow. Earlier this month, three soldiers were arrested for apparently plotting a coup against the military junta headed by Capt. Traoré, reflecting the fragility of the junta.

Bazié referred to what he called the “double standards” of certain Western countries calling volunteer fighters in Ukraine “patriots” and the West’s supplying weapons to help the country defend itself against Russia, while the US has cut off military aid to Burkina Faso and its security and defense forces as well as its estimated 50,000 mobilized volunteer fighters. Instead, he said, outsiders were characterizing the Burkinabé soldiers as “militias.”

He also suggested that the war in Ukraine was “being maintained and desired by certain other powers,” and he later questioned why Western military forces deployed in the Sahel region of Africa had been so successful at tracking down terrorists, claiming that the forces’ only motivation for operating in this part of the continent was to benefit from its rich natural resources.

More than 16,000 people have died in terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso since 2016, almost a third of them killed in the last year. A staggering 43 percent of deaths from terrorists occurred in the Sahel in 2022, according to this year’s Global Terrorism Index. (The Sahel is a band of semiarid land stretching across the continent, straddling above the Sahara Desert.) Burkina Faso’s security forces and volunteer fighters have suffered heavy casualties while also being accused of killings and human rights abuses, directed at people largely of Fulani ethnicity.

“Doesn’t this gloomy picture of the international community, characterized by nonassistance to a state in the grip of terrorism, international hypocrisy, the supremacy of a few powers within the UN, complicity in the plundering of Africa, etc., call for this international community to be brought before the ICC?” Bazié asked, referring to the International Criminal Court.


We welcome your comments on this article.  What are your thoughts on Burkina Faso's speech?

Clair MacDougall is an independent journalist who reports throughout Africa from her base in the western Sahel region, where she is currently reporting on the security and humanitarian crisis there. She holds an honor’s degree in political theory and a master’s degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. In February 2021, the International Center for Journalists awarded MacDougall for her article on the first official death of a UN peacekeeper from Covid-19, published jointly by PassBlue and The Daily Beast.

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Special Report: Burkina Faso Hits Out at France, Ecowas, the UN and Homosexuality
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zachary
zachary
6 months ago

I hope this are typing errors or errors of omission: 1.”…he later questioned why Western military forces deployed in the Sahel region of Africa had been so successful at tracking down terrorists, claiming that the forces’ only motivation for operating in this part of the continent was to benefit from its rich natural resources.” The underlined statement is incorrect. He questioned why western military forces deployed in the Sahel region of Africa, despite their sophisticated weaponry have failed to track terrorists and defeat them and he further questioned who arms the terrorists, since there are no arms manufacturing industries in the Sahel region. Then he concluded that the western state were using terrorism as a pretext to plunder the resources of the African countries in the Sahel region.

Roy Hauya
Roy Hauya
2 months ago
Reply to  zachary

I agree with your version. I am clear in my mind that he wanted to make clear the point that the west is literally guarding these underground resources and not tackling terrorists. Many are becoming aware that the west is distabilising Africa to obscure pillage of her high value resources. Africa is aware and slowly taking action

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