Burkina army seizes power after uprising against veteran ruler
Ouagadougou, Oct 30 (AFP)Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore was toppled today as the army took power after protesters set parliament ablaze in a popular uprising against the veteran leader’s 27-year-rule.
The demonstrators earlier forced the government to scrap a vote on controversial plans to allow Compaore to extend his reign, with tens of thousands of people joining a mass rally in the capital Ouagadougou calling for the strongman to go.
Hundreds of people stormed parliament and other public buildings including the national television headquarters, ransacking offices and setting fire to cars, despite a heavy police and army presence across the capital.
The army, in a hastily arranged press conference, announced it was seizing power and pledged to restore constitutional order within 12 months.
It imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and announced the dissolution of Compaore’s government and the national assembly, and the creation of a transitional body to run the country.
The communique, read out by an officer, was signed by the army chief of staff Nabere Honore Traore.
There was no mention of Compaore’s whereabouts.
Earlier a statement purportedly from the presidency said a state of emergency had been declared.
“The army chief of staff is charged with carrying out this decree, which enters into force from this day,” it said.
The document was not dated and carried a signature that did not resemble the president’s usual one.
The United States, Burkina Faso’s former colonial ruler France and the African Union all voiced alarm over the unrest gripping the poor west African nation.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon dispatched a special envoy to help restore calm and the European Union called for an end to the violence.
“The army is united with the people,” said Benewende Sankara, a leading light in the opposition.
Army chief Traore had earlier met with retired general Kouame Lougue, a former defence minister being touted by the opposition as a replacement for Compaore, to discuss the crisis.
Tens of thousands of protesters massed on the streets of the capital shouting “Lougue in power!” (AFP)