Burkina Faso parliament set ablaze

Published October 31, 2014
Ouagadougou: People stand in front of Burkina Faso’s parliament after demonstrators set on fire cars parked in the courtyard.—AFP
Ouagadougou: People stand in front of Burkina Faso’s parliament after demonstrators set on fire cars parked in the courtyard.—AFP

OUAGADOUGOU: Angry demonstrators went on the rampage in Burkina Faso on Thursday, setting parliament ablaze in a surge of violence that forced the government to scrap a vote on controversial plans to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule.

The United States and former colonial power France voiced alarm over the unrest gripping the poor west African nation and appealed for calm.

Hundreds of people broke through a heavy security cordon and stormed the National Assembly building in the capital Ouagadougou, ransacking offices and setting fire to cars, before attacking the national television headquarters and moving on the presidential palace.

One man was killed in the chaos that erupted just before lawmakers were due to vote on the legislation that would allow Compaore — who took power in a 1987 coup — to contest next year’s election.

The government, facing its worst crisis since a wave of mutinies shook the country in 2011, later announced it was calling off the vote but it was not immediately clear if this was a temporary move.

Black smoke billowed out of smashed windows at the parliament building, where several offices were ravaged by flames, including the speaker’s office, although the main chamber so far appeared to be unscathed.

The legislature had been due to examine a proposed amendment that would allow Compaore to run for re-election in November 2015.

Several hundred protesters also broke into the headquarters of the national television station RTB, pillaging equipment and smashing cars, the correspondents said.

Crowds of people later massed near the presidential palace but were being held back by troops from the presidential guard who fired warning shots into the air.

The ruling party headquarters in the second city of Bobo Dioulasso and the city hall was also torched by protesters, witnesses said.

“The president must deal with the consequences,” said Benewende Sankara, one of the leaders of the opposition which had called for the people to march on parliament over the Compaore law.

The country has been tense for days over the constitutional changes.

Police were out in force around the parliament after mass rallies earlier this week but failed to stop the onslaught despite using tear gas against the protesters.

The United States said it was “deeply concerned” about the crisis and criticised the attempts to alter the constitution, while France appealed for calm and said it “deplored” the violence.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2014

Opinion

Editorial

Unyielding onslaught
12 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...
X diplomacy
Updated 12 Jun, 2024

X diplomacy

Both states can pursue adversarial policies, or come to the negotiating table and frankly discuss all outstanding issues, which can be tackled through dialogue.
Strange decisions
12 Jun, 2024

Strange decisions

THE ECP continues to wade deeper and deeper into controversy. Through its most recent decision, it had granted major...
Interest rate cut
Updated 11 Jun, 2024

Interest rate cut

The decision underscores SBP’s confidence that economic stability is gaining traction.
Rampant zealotry
11 Jun, 2024

Rampant zealotry

Decades of myopic policies pursued by the state have further aided the radicalisation of significant portions of the population.
Cricket breakdown
11 Jun, 2024

Cricket breakdown

THERE was a feeling that Pakistan had finally turned the corner in their T20 World Cup campaign. Sadly, it was only ...