OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore said on Thursday he would stay in power at the head of a transitional government until after elections, rejecting opposition calls for him to step down immediately following a day of violent protests.
The head of the armed forces, General Honore Traore, had earlier dissolved parliament and announced talks with all political parties to create an interim government to take the West African country to democratic elections within a year.
The move came after at least three protesters were shot dead and scores wounded in clashes with security forces as demonstrators attacked the homes of senior members of the ruling party and symbols of Compaore’s long rule.
Hundreds of people had earlier stormed parliament, looting the building and setting it on fire, while others ransacked state television, forcing it off the air.
Protests also gripped Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina’s second-largest city, and other towns across the gold and cotton-producing country.
“I have heard the message, understood it and taken note of strong desire for change,” Compaore said in a statement broadcast on BF1 TV. “I am available to open talks on a transitional period at the end of which I will hand over power to the democratically elected president.”
Compaore, who seized power in a military coup in 1987, said he had dissolved his government and was lifting martial law that was announced earlier in the day.
He also scrapped plans for an unpopular constitutional amendment that would have allowed him to seek reelection next year, a prospect that had sparked Thursday’s protests.
Full article: Africa’s Fourth-Largest Gold Producer Is Facing A Possible Military Coup (Business Insider)