News / Africa

    Burkina Faso Army Chief Dissolves Parliament After Unrest

    • Soldiers attempt to stop anti-government protesters from entering the parliament building in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, Oct. 30, 2014.
    • An anti-government protester faces down a soldier outside the parliament building in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, Oct. 30, 2014.
    • Prostesters enter the parliament in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Oct. 30, 2014.
    • Protesters stand outside the parliament as cars and documents burn outside, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Oct. 30, 2014.
    • Police arrest an anti-government protester in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, Oct. 30, 2014.
    • Hundreds of angry demonstrators storm parliament before setting it on fire to protest plans to change the constitution to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Oct. 30, 2014.
    • A car burns outside the parliament building in Burkina Faso as people protest against their longtime President Blaise Compaore who seeks another term in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Oct. 30, 2014.
    • A man watches cars burn at a hotel where members of the parliament were said to be staying in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, Oct. 30, 2014.
    • Anti-government protesters throw rocks at police in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, Oct. 30, 2014.
    VOA News

    Burkina Faso's army chief dissolved parliament Thursday and announced plans for a transitional government.

    General Honore Traore said in a statement that the transitional government would return the country to constitutional order "within 12 months.” He also declared a national curfew from 7 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday (1900-0600 GMT).

    Earlier, President Blaise Compaore declared a state of emergency and called for talks with the opposition after hundreds of protesters pushed their way past riot police and set fire to parliament. Police responded with tear gas and water cannon. Other government buildings and a state TV station were also attacked.

    At least three protesters were killed when security forces opened fire on the crowds in Ouagadougou, the capital.

    Government officials said there were also large-scale protests in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina's second-largest town, and Ouahigouya, to the north.

    Proposed amendment

    The unrest erupted as lawmakers prepared to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow Compaore to run for another term in next year's elections. The ruling party has been pushing for months to amend the constitution to eliminate a two-term limit for presidents that went into effect in 2000.

    Opposition parties have objected to the ruling party's efforts and had called on people to take to the streets starting at 5 a.m. Thursday to block access to the National Assembly.

    Opposition leader Zephirin Diabre said on his Twitter feed Thursday that the opposition was against a coup in Burkina Faso.

    "We do not endorse the seizure of power by force. We just want respect for democracy," Diabre said.

    Traore said he was dissolving the government "given the serious deterioration of the situation, given the state of dysfunction the institutions of the republic are in, given the need to protect the country from chaos and ensure national unity."

    Compaore, 63, who has ruled Burkina Faso since seizing power in a 1987 coup, is a key ally for former colonial power France.

    France has thousands of troops fighting al-Qaida-linked Islamists in the region, and it has about 3,600 nationals in Burkina Faso. France also operates a special forces base in Burkina Faso that regularly launches operations in the Sahel-Sahara region.

    France, US reaction

    On Thursday, France called for calm in Burkina Faso. Earlier in the week, it urged Compaore to adhere to the African Union charter, which bans constitutional revisions aimed at preventing political change.

    The U.S. State Department also expressed concern Thursday about the constitutional amendment. It urged Burkina Faso's people to shun violence and debate the issue in a "peaceful and inclusive" manner.

    The U.S. Embassy in Burkina Faso has told staff members to shelter in place and is urging Americans in the country to avoid protests or large gatherings.

    National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan also issued a statement regarding the situation in Burkina Faso.

    “The United States is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Burkina Faso resulting from efforts to amend the constitution to enable the incumbent head of state to seek another term after 27 years in office,” the statement read.

    “We believe democratic institutions are strengthened when established rules are adhered to with consistency.  We call on all parties, including the security forces, to end the violence and return to a peaceful process to create a future for Burkina Faso that will build on Burkina Faso’s hard-won democratic gains," Meehan said.

    VOA's Zoumana Wonogo contributed to this report from Ouagadougou. Anne Look contributed to this report from Dakar. Some material for this report came from Reuters and AFP.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: Atubiga Abdul Gafar from: Ghana
    November 04, 2014 8:42 AM
    Burkina is a peaceful country and citizens should admire that.

    by: Solomon B Etim from: Nigeria. Akwa Ibom State
    October 30, 2014 11:06 PM
    These are signs of the end times.christians all over the World should see this from the spiritual perspective.The rapture will soon take place. Be circumspectful we was

    October 30, 2014 10:57 PM
    These african leaders crestes problems because of not faithful to their constit. but the effects goesbto innocent citizens.
    May the souls of our beloved who were at lesst killed rest in peace.

    by: Al from: United States
    October 30, 2014 5:50 PM
    Ebola has shown how useless these idiotic leaders are , They've ruined their countries to out right beggar nations . People are asking him to leave , what did he do , dissolve parliament . They should dissolve him instead .
    Just go away. Next Equatorial Guinea , Cameroon, The Gambia then Chad .

    by: Eugene from: Maryland USA
    October 30, 2014 5:16 PM
    I sincerely hope my fellow Cameroonians are taking notes.

    by: davidgotomo from: monrovi.liberia
    October 30, 2014 3:33 PM
    Now that the people had decided to seek for a democratic leadership so let it reign so that other may have the ability vote who they need to led them.

    by: irhete P from: nigeria
    October 30, 2014 3:29 PM
    What else does Blaise want from his people? Why can't he understand that the country is not solely his? How can he be so wicked?

    by: Jean Kapenda from: USA/DRC
    October 30, 2014 9:24 AM
    Africa has finally woken up when courage replaces decades of fear under those mad basenjis from Kigali, Kampala, Ouagadougou, etc. it is time to get rid of those dictators, yes, those little devils coated in human skin. Burkina Faso has set the tone to cleanse Africa from the political Ebola that has destroyed so many lives. Africa has never needed little devils in human skins to rule over them. They need and deserve the best, not those ugly monsters no decent human being would sit around the table to dine with. Félicitations au peuple intègre du Burkina Faso!!!

    by: Pamela S Palme from: United States
    October 30, 2014 8:14 AM
    People want justice and the ability for self governance.

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