Burkina Faso to raise 150 million euros for war fund

Prime Minister Apollinaire Kielem de Tembela last week asked France for arms and munitions.

The Burkina Faso government has announced plans to raise 152 million euros for a “fund to support the war” against a bloody jihadist insurgency.

The fund “should enable us to raise 100 billion CFA for the year” 2023, Economy Minister Aboubacar Nacanabo said on Friday after talks with President Ibrahim Traore, employers and social partners.

“As part of the fight against terrorism, the government has decided to recruit 50,000 members of the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland,” or VDP, the minister said.

The civilian auxiliaries who support the army would be paid 60,000 CFA a month, or 91 euros, he added.

“Beside this cost, weapons have to be bought to equip them, uniforms to fit them out, vehicles and fuel to move them,” Nacanabo said.

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He also floated the “idea” of a one percent levy on all salaries, including those of members of parliament, and a sales tax on drinks, cigarettes, internet and luxury goods to help cover the costs of the fighting that has spread from Mali since 2015.

Prime Minister Apollinaire Kielem de Tembela last week asked France for arms and munitions for the auxiliaries.

The VDP auxiliary force was set up in late 2019 and provides two weeks’ military training for surveillance, information-gathering or escort duties. 

But hundreds of volunteers have been killed in ambushes or by roadside bombs. 

Despite the losses, 90,000 people signed up during a recruitment drive for the VDP in November, according to the authorities.

Burkina Faso has experienced two military coups this year, driven by army officers angered at the failure to tackle the jihadist threat.

But the number of attacks linked to the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda have increased in recent months, particularly in the north and east of the landlocked nation in the heart of the Sahel.

Captain Ibrahim Traore, who took over as president after a coup on September 30, has declared his intention to win back territory occupied by the “terrorist hordes”.

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