Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaoré declared a state of emergency
and dissolved the
government on Thursday, as he pledged to open talks
with the opposition in an effort to defuse protests sparked by his
attempt to extend his presidency.
“A state of emergency is declared across the national territory. The
chief of the armed forces is in charge of implementing this decision
which enters into effect today,” the statement said.
“I dissolve the government from today so as to create conditions for
change. I’m calling on the leaders of the political opposition to put an
end to the protests. I’m pledging from today to open talks with all the
actors to end the crisis,” it added.
Earlier in the day, thousands of demonstrators stormed the country’s
parliament in the capital Ouagadougou, setting it ablaze ahead a vote on
whether to revise the constitution to allow Compaoré stand a third term
The proposal has deeply divided Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest
nations which has positioned itself as a mediator in regional crises.
It has also drawn criticism from former colonial power France and from
the United States, allies of the Burkinabe government in operations
against al Qaeda-linked groups in West Africa.
Following the fire at the parliament, a government spokesperson said
that the vote had been called off. It was unclear, however, if the
decision was only temporary.
Compaoré has been in power since 1987, ruling the cotton and
gold-producing nation with a firm grip. In recent years, however, he has
faced increasing criticism, including from within his own camp and the
Diplomatic pressure had mounted over the past year for Compaoré to step
down in 2015, amid calls from his own entourage for him to seek
re-election, diplomats said.
Domestic opposition to his government hardened dramatically after it
confirmed on October 21 that it would seek a constitutional change.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Ouagadougou and
other towns across the country on Tuesday in what the opposition said
was the start of a campaign of civil disobedience over the proposed