One day before politicians were to vote on a controversial new law, riots erupted in the capital of Burkina Faso. The parliament and government party headquarters were set on fire, the national television headquarters was attacked, cars were burned, and the airport was closed. Five people so far have died in the sudden chaos.
Ouagadougou’s National Assembly building was stormed by hundreds of Burkinabe, who then moved on to the presidential palace, but were held back by the presidential guard, who fired warning shots into the air.
Reportedly, many Burkinabe soldiers have joined the protests, including the nation’s former defence minister, General Kouame Lougue.
Opposition leader Zephirin Diabre has called for the military to side with “the people.”
“October 30 is Burkina Faso’s Black Spring, like the Arab Spring,” an official of the opposition Movement of People for Progress, Emile Pargui Pare, was quoted.
The riots broke out just one day before national politicians were scheduled to vote on a controversial law that would allow Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore to run for election next year.
The legislation would allow the president to extend his 27-year rule of the county, which began in 1987 as the result of a coup.
Compare has been re-elected four times. The first two terms were seven years each, and the second two terms were five years each. Constitutional limits on the office were brought in during 2005.
The new legislation could allow Compare to retain power for another 15 years.
Reacting to the riots, Compaore declared a state of emergency and dissolved the government. The president also released a statement saying he was ready to talk with opposition.
The government of Burkina Faso announced that the vote on the legislation had been called off, but did not specifiy whether this was a cancellation or postponement to the vote.
By Day Blakely Donaldson