Thousands of people demonstrated Friday in Kaya, capital of Burkina Faso's north-central region, to oppose the passage of a large French army logistics convoy in transit to neighboring Niger, organizers and residents have said.
"French army get out", "Free the Sahel", "No more French invasion and recolonization military convoy", could be read on signs and banners held up by demonstrators, gathered at the entrance of Kaya, according to photos and videos authenticated by AFP.
With their fists in the air, the demonstrators sang the national anthem in front of the French convoy of several dozen vehicles that was still blocked in Kaya on Friday afternoon, according to the demonstrators.
Coming from Ivory Coast and bound for Niger, the convoy's advance had already been blocked Wednesday and Thursday by demonstrators in Bobo Dioulasso (west), then in the capital Ouagadougou where Burkinabe security forces had to use tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, according to Roland Bayala, spokesman for the Coalition of African Patriots of Burkina Faso (Copa-BF), which called for these demonstrations.
"We were demonstrating against insecurity, when we learned that from Côte d'Ivoire, a convoy of the French army was to cross Burkina Faso to Niger," he said. "We decided to blockade, because despite the agreements signed with France, we continue to record deaths and our countries remain underarmed," he told AFP. He said he had "called on the people who are on the route of this convoy to mobilize" to oppose its passage.
On Tuesday, several hundred people took part in demonstrations in several cities of the country to demand the resignation of Burkinabe President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré for his "inability to stop terrorist attacks", two days after a jihadist attack that killed at least 53 people, including 49 gendarmes in Inata, in the north of the country.
Burkina Faso has faced regular and deadly jihadist attacks since 2015, particularly in the northern and eastern regions, in the so-called "three borders" area, bordering Mali and Niger, two countries also facing operations by armed jihadists.
The violence, sometimes mixed with inter-communal clashes, has killed an estimated 2,000 people and forced 1.4 million to flee their homes.