Burkina junta chief is traveling to Mali for first time

Captain Ibrahim Traore, the newly appointed military head of Burkina Faso, was scheduled to travel to Mali on Wednesday, according to officials in both nations.

The Malian counterpart, Assimi Goita, who took office in a putsch in August 2020, will meet the 34-year-old head of the junta, they claimed.

The deadly conflict between the two nations and Islamists would be the main topic of discussion, a Burkinabe official stated.

The duration of Traore’s “friendship and professional visit” to the capital Bamako, according to the Malian foreign ministry, was set at three hours.

The two Sahel states are among the world’s poorest and most unstable countries.

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Both commanders were elected by army officers who were upset that Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group-affiliated Islamists had not been defeated.

Over two million people have fled their homes in the two nations, along with the neighboring Niger, and thousands of people have died.

Roch Marc Christian Kabore, Burkina Faso’s previous elected president, had been overthrown in January by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who was replaced by Traore.

Under Goita, Mali started to develop closer connections with the Kremlin, purchasing planes to bolster its struggling armed forces and enlisting Russian “trainers,” who Western nations referred to as Wagner mercenaries.

As this bond grew stronger, relations with Paris, Mali’s longtime friend, worsened and France came under attack.

This year, Paris withdrew the final contingent of soldiers it had stationed in Mali as part of its Barkhane anti-jihadist operation in the Sahel.

Anti-French demonstrations during the most recent coup in Burkina have included some protesters waving Russian flags and calling for the evacuation of 400 French special forces.

Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela, the new prime minister, suggested on Sunday that Burkina Faso might consider forging closer ties with Russia in light of “the new deal” in security.

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