Long game

Côte d’Ivoire: President Ouattara impatient with Burkina Faso’s Ibrahim Traoré

By The Africa Report, The Africa Report

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Posted on June 5, 2023 07:43

 © Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, April 27, 2023 in Abidjan. ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, April 27, 2023 in Abidjan. ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP

The Ivorian head of state wants to resume joint operations with Burkina Faso, but for now, Ouagadougou’s transitional president is using delaying tactics.

Ivorian authorities are getting impatient as joint operations with the Burkinabe army are slow to resume. Abidjan wants to step up the exchange of information and once again pressed Ouagadougou on the matter last April. The junta has asked the Ivorians to be patient, as they continue to reorganise their armed forces.

Téné Birahima Ouattara’s discreet trip

According to our sources, Ivorian Defence Minister Téné Birahima Ouattara (TBO) had already met transitional President Ibrahim Traoré in the Burkinabe capital during a discreet trip in January, where the latter reassured the minister of his willingness to continue military cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire.

The last major military manoeuvre between the two countries took place in May 2020, followed by another more discreetly-planned action in 2021 under Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. It had dismantled terrorist cells in southern Burkina Faso and north-eastern Côte d’Ivoire, in the heart of the Comoé Forest.

When Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was in power, Ivorians were allowed to operate up to 50km beyond their borders. However, since the September 2022 Ibrahim Traoré-led coup d’état, relations with Ivorian authorities have cooled. However, contact has not been broken, and exchanges continue with TBO acting as a liaison between the two capitals.

In March, Côte d’Ivoire delivered more than 1,000 Kalashnikovs, 50 pick-up trucks, and ammunition to the Burkinabe army to fight terrorist groups, which have caused more than 15,000 casualties since 2015.

This equipment doesn’t come without strings, however: these arms cannot be deployed by the army’s auxiliary forces, the Volontaires pour la défense de la patrie (VDP). On 25 April, Burkina Faso and Mali announced the result of a 21 April joint operation in Mouhoun Province, right up to the border.

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