Protesters in Burkina Faso called Saturday for the president's resignation over the government's handling of security.
About 8 a.m. Saturday, protesters began to gather near the Place de Revolution, in downtown Ouagadougou. Military police had already cordoned off the square to prevent protests, which the mayor of Ouagadougou called illegal on Thursday.
Protesters have been fighting running battles with the municipal police for about two hours now. Security forces are driving up and down the streets of the downtown area of Ouagadougou, firing tear gas at large groupings of people. Many journalists have been tear gassed, including VOA reporter, even after they identified themselves as journalists to police.
Protests have spread across Burkina Faso in the last week, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of President Roch Kabore because of his handling of security during his six years in power. In that time, terror groups linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State have spread across the country. An attack on a military base in Inata, in the north of the country, saw more than 50 military police killed and triggered the recent protests.
Meanwhile, demonstrators also blockaded a French military convoy in the city of Kaya last weekend, claiming the French were arming terror groups. There is no evidence to support that claim.
One protester, who did not give their name, explained Saturday why they were protesting in the streets.
No! We are here today to ask Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who has shown himself to be nothing but mediocre, we are simply asking that he resign, said the protester.
Another said this: My logic: it is to march to show the government our dissatisfaction with the management of the security crisis, which is grieving Burkina Faso today.
On Thursday night, President Kabore made a televised address to the nation. He implored the youth of the country to exercise restraint in the face of protests and misinformation and said he would reorganize the military, implement an anti-corruption drive and announce the results of an inquiry into the Inata attack.
I will watch scrupulously, more than previously, questions of logistics, bonuses and strengthening of the operational capacities of our fighting forces, said the president.
The Inata base had not been supplied with food for two weeks prior to the attack.
Andrew Lebovich is a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. He says it’s too early to draw conclusions about what these protests mean for the government moving forward.
Many Burkinabe want the government to improve security because of ongoing attacks and the widespread perception the security situation is getting worse every day.