AFRICANGLOBE – Burkina Faso’s dictator and puppet of France Blaise Compaore has imposed a state of emergency after massive protests at his bid to extend his 27-year dictatorship.
The government and parliament have been dissolved, and an overnight curfew has been declared across the country.
Protests to demand Mr Compaore’s resignation are continuing in the capital, Ouagadougou.
This forced MPs to abandon a vote aimed at allowing Compaore to seek re-election in 2015.
The main opposition leader, Zephirin Diabre, told a local radio station that the state of emergency was unacceptable.
“We are calling on the people to show that they are against it. The resignation of President Blaise Compaore is the only thing that can bring peace to the country,” he is quoted as saying.
At least one person has been killed in the protests, says journalist Yacouba Ouedraogo in the capital.
Mr. Diabre said dozens of protesters had been killed across the country by the security forces.
It was a “barbaric escalation of violence”, he said.
The military fired live bullets to try and disperse protesters who had occupied parliament, our correspondent says.
Protesters had also surged towards the presidential palace, and a government helicopter flying overhead fired tear gas at them.
Witnesses say dozens of soldiers have joined the protest in Ouagadougou’s main square, including a former defence minister, Gen Kouame Lougue.
Protesters are demanding his installation as president, our reporter says.
‘TV off air’
The city hall, the homes of MPs, and an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou were also set ablaze.
Similar protests hit the south-western city of Bobo Dioulasso, and other towns in the plundered West African state.
- Served under President Thomas Sankara as minister of state to the presidency
- Took power after murdering Thomas Sankara with the backing of the French and Muammar Gaddafi in 1987
- First elected president in 1991 and again in 1998
- A new constitution in 2000 limited presidents to two terms in office, and limited terms to five years
- Won two further terms
- Protests at attempts to amend the term limits began a year ago, fuelled by the high cost of living
State television went off air after protesters stormed the building housing it and ransacked it.
This is one of the most serious protests against Compaore’s rule.
“A state of emergency is declared across the national territory. The chief of the armed forces is in charge of implementing this decision which enters into effect today,” the president’s statement said.
“I dissolve the government from today so as to create conditions for change. I’m calling on the leaders of the political opposition to put an end to the protests. I’m pledging from today to open talks with all the actors to end the crisis,” it added.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, will fly to Burkina Faso on Friday in an attempt to prop up Compaore.
Compaore first took power in a coup in 1987, and has won four disputed elections since then.
The protests forced the government to suspend Thursday’s parliamentary vote on a constitutional amendment that would have lifted the limit on presidential terms so that Compaore could run for office again in 2015.
Compaore is backed and propped up by the US and France, which uses Burkina Faso as a base for military operations against militant Islamists in the Sahel region.
Revolution In Burkina Faso