German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledges support for Burkina Faso
BY JIBRIL TURE
(With reporting by Ibrahim Diallo)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 1 May kicked off a three-nation tour of West Africa, with Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali as her itinerary. The chancellor arrived yesterday in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, where she was warmly received by the country’s president Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
Besides their economic development challenges (not unlike the vast majority of African nations,) these three Sahelian nations’ biggest woe is the ever-present threat of terrorism that has destroyed thousands of lives—and caused economic setbacks. Chancellor Merkel has made the fight against terrorism her country’s priority in the region. So, following her talks Wednesday with President Kabore, whose country faces one of its worst security threats in years, she pledged whopping 46 million euros ($52 million) to strengthen Burkina Faso’s defense forces. The chancellor pledged an additional 20 million euros to the country in support for economic development.
Following her talks with President Kabore on Wednesday, the chancellor told reporters about German’s commitment to helping the country:
“The worsening security situation was the focus of our conversation, and we want to side with Burkina Faso by cooperating on security matters.”
Referring specifically to the situation in the eastern and northern regions that are faced with the sharpest security threats, with children not being able to go to school, the chancellor said: “We need to end these problems as quickly as possible.”
Burkina Faso is only one of five Sahelian countries that form a front of sorts against the terrorist threat: the others are Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The chancellor met with the leaders of these nations that form the so-called G5, as they were expected to hold a meeting on the thorny issue of fight against terrorism, in an effort to devise a strategy for increased efficiency. She pledged 60 million euros to this group, a much-needed assistance that should go a long way toward the establishment of the planned 5,000-men strong fighting force that has so far been an elusive project since the organization’s inception five years ago.
While the focus of the chancellor’s visit has been on security and Berlin’s contribution toward that, economic assistance has also received some attention. Merkel said her government has been working to secure private-sector investments for these countries, saying that “Africa needs a self-supporting economic boom.”
The chancellor left Ouagadougou today, Thursday, for Mali where 850 German soldiers are stationed as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission and an EU training mission.