Tag Archives: Ouagadougou

Protests in Burkina Faso

Posted on in Burkina Faso title_rule

On Sunday, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital city, rallying against the military’s take over. Both the United Nations and the African Union have rejected the military’s takeover, stating military leader’s now in control must hand power to a civilian transitional government or they may face sanctions.

During the early morning hours on Sunday, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Ouagadougou, gathering at the Place de la Nation. While early morning demonstrations appeared calm, by afternoon, reports surfaced of violent clashes between demonstrators and soldiers. Reports have indicated that the country’s national broadcaster, RTB, has gone off air after shots were heard at its headquarters. Witnesses near the scene reported seeing soldiers firing into the air to disperse protesters before forcing journalist to flee. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that crowds had gathered at the state TV headquarters after rumours spread that a popular leader was about to announce that she was willing to lead the transition. Soldiers have since taken over the Place de la Nation, where they have removed thousands of protesters and set up barricades.

Under Burkina Faso’s constitution, the speaker of parliament is supposed to step in as interim head of state following the president’s resignation. However on Friday, the army named second-in-command of the presidential guard, Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, as head of the transitional authority. The opposition, and international mediators, are now calling for the army to step down and to allow a civilian transfer of power, warning that if these conditions are not met, sanctions may be imposed.

Former president Blaise Compaore and his wife have taken refuge in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.

The situation remains fluid and it is currently unclear when order will be restored. MS Risk advises all travellers in Burkina Faso to be aware of the following:

  • A curfew may be imposed later today as attempts are made to restore order. If a curfew is announced, MS Risk advises all travellers to adhere to the curfew hours.
  • Protests will likely be called by the opposition over the coming days in a bid to place further pressure on the army to allow a civilian transfer of power. Security forces will likely be deployed across the capital city, especially at government buildings, state TV headquarters and the army’s headquarters. MS Risk advises all travellers to avoid these areas of the capital city and to be aware of your surroundings at all times. We also advise that you stay away from demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent with minimal notice.
  • Although Ouagadougou International Airport is currently open, with officials indicating that services should return to normal within the next 24 – 48 hours, given the new wave of demonstrations, officials may opt to close the airport or reduce service in the coming days.
  • The government may impose restrictions on travel over the coming days, and may set up roadblocks across the country. You should be aware that illegal roadblocks may also be set up.
  • There is a potential for reduced availability in stores and petrol stations while any supply chain interruptions are sorted.

For up to date information on the current situation in Burkina Faso, follow us on @MSRisk_Security or visit our website: www.msrisk.com

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Burkina Faso President Resigns After Three Days of Protests

Posted on in Burkina Faso title_rule

After three days of protests, on Friday, Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore formally announced his resignation, with the country’s armed forces chief General Honore Traore announcing that he has taken charge of the West African country.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Mr Compaore disclosed that the presidency was now vacant, and urged that the country hold elections within 90 days. Military chief General Honore Traore has since indicated that he has taken over as head of state. The announcement by Mr Compaore came less than twenty-four hours after the dissolution of parliament and the declaration of a state of emergency.

Following days of protests in Ouagadougou, which turned violent on Thursday as protesters stormed Parliament, setting fire to it and several official and unofficial buildings, the country’s army General announced early Thursday evening the creation of a transitional government after declaring the dissolution of parliament and imposing a night curfew. Mr Compaore announced late Thursday that he had agreed to not seek another term, but that he would remain in power until a transitional government had completed its work in 2015. The opposition however continued its demands that he resign, with its leader, Zephirin Diabre, calling on protesters to occupy public spaces in order to force the president to resign. On Friday, protesters occupied Ouagadougou’s Place de la Nation as well as the main army headquarters. Although in the early hours of Friday, Mr Compaore had restated his position that he would not resign, by the afternoon it was clear that the president no longer had a choice.

Mr Compaore’s statement, which was read on local television, disclosed, “in order to preserve the democratic gains, as well as social peace. I declare a power vacuum to allow the establishment of a transition leading to free and fair elections within a maximum of 90 days. “ Lieutenant-Colonel Issaac Zida also made the announcement to protesters at the Place de la Nation, which was greeted with cheers from the crowds.

While the current whereabouts of the president remain unclear, diplomatic sources have reported that a heavily armed convoy, believed to be carrying Burkina Faso’s now–former president Blaise Compaore was seen travelling towards the southern town of Po, near the border with Ghana.

Although MS Risk expects that order will be restored across the country quickly, all travellers currently in Burkina Faso should be aware of the following:

  • Curfew’s may be imposed over the following days as order is restored. If this is the case, MS Risk advises all travellers to adhere to the curfew hours.
  • There is a likelihood of increased military and police presence across the country, especially in the capital city. Security forces will likely be deployed to all government buildings, with an increased military presence at the army’s headquarters.
  • Demonstrations celebrating the president’s resignation may occur over the coming days, particularly in Ouagadougou. MS Risk advises all travellers to avoid large gatherings and demonstrations as they may turn violent with minimal notice.
  • The government may impose restrictions on travel over the coming days, and may set up roadblocks across the country. You should be aware that illegal roadblocks may also be set up.
  • With Ouagadougou airport closed on Thursday 30 October, continued limited air carrier services are likely continue over the weekend as airlines monitor the situation. Services will likely be up and running on 3 November.
  • There is a potential for reduced availability in stores and petrol stations while any supply chain interruptions are sorted.

For up to date information on the current situation in Burkina Faso, follow us on @MSRisk_Security or visit our website: www.msrisk.com

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Demonstrators Storm Parliament in Burkina Faso

Posted on in Burkina Faso title_rule

30 October– Thousands of protesters have stormed Burkina Faso’s parliament and set the building on fire in Ouagadougou, forcing police to withdraw ahead of a vote on a motion to allow the president to stand for re-election. The military has fired live bullets in an attempt to disperse the protesters. The crowd reportedly then headed towards the Prime Minister’s office. One witness has reported that a government helicopter flew overhead, shooting tear gas canisters at protesters.

Earlier, violent clashes broke out in Ouagadougou during a second day of protests denouncing President Blaise Compaore’s plan to seek re-election for another five-year term. Students and members of the largest labour coalition marched in the Burkina Faso capital, some wielding iron bars and stones. Security forces clashed with stone-throwing demonstrators for hours, using tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse the crowds, and dismantling makeshift traffic barricades outside the National Assembly and Place de la Nation. Opposition leaders have said that nearly a million people have taken to the streets to prevent the change to the constitutional article.

President Compaore, who has been in power for 27 years, seeks to amend Article 37 of Burkina Faso’s constitution, which sets term limits on presidential powers. In 1987, Compaore seized power following a coup in which Thomas Sankara, was ousted and assassinated. Compaore has been re-elected president four times since 1991, twice to seven year terms, and twice to five year terms. In 2005, constitutional limits were introduced; Compaore nearing the end of his second five-year term. His proposal to amend Article 37 would allow him to run for a fifth term in the 2015 elections. Opposition leaders call the move a constitutional coup, fearing the new rules would enable Compaore to seek re-election three more times, allowing up to 15 more years in power.

The country’s parliament will vote today on whether to hold a referendum allowing the change. If the amendment passes by at least 75 percent of the parliamentarians, Compaore will be allowed to run in the 2015 elections. If support falls short of 75 percent, the bill will be put to a public referendum. Over the weekend, the nation’s third largest party in parliament said it would back the amendment, setting the Compaore on course to pass the amendment without resorting to a referendum.

The nation’s largest opposition group asked the police to allow the public inside the National Assembly to watch the vote, and has called for a blockade of parliament as the legislature examines the proposed amendment. The government has urged protesters to show restraint following heavy clashes on Wednesday.

The U.S. and United Nations have both called for restraint by the government and protesters. The European Union said the planned constitutional change should be scrapped, warning that it could “jeopardise… stability, equitable development and democratic progress”.

Sixty percent of Burkina’s population is under 25, and have spent their entire lives under the leadership of Compaore. Frustration has erupted into outcry as the country has stagnated under his rule, ranking 183rd out of 186 countries on the UN human development index.

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Violent Protests in Burkina Faso as Nationals Oppose Third-Term Presidential Bid

Posted on in Burkina Faso title_rule

Following a day of protests, that saw hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital city, trade unions on Wednesday called on a general strike just one day ahead of a Parliamentary assembly, which will consider a constitutional amendment aimed at extending the President Blaise Compaore’s 27-year rule.

Marching through the capital city, with banners reading “Blaise Get Out!” and “Don’t Touch Article 37,” which is in reference to the constitutional term limit that the president’s allies want to alter, Tuesday’s demonstration was one of the largest protests demanding that President Blaise Compaore step down when presidential elections take place next year. Since a vote on the amendment was proposed 21 October, hundreds of protesters across the capital city have assembled barricades and burned tyres. On Friday, secondary school children deserted class in order to join the protests, creating major disruptions across the capital city while on Monday, schools and universities across the country announced a week closure as opposition members vowed to carry out protests to fight the proposed amendment. The rising tension comes ahead of Thursday’s meeting where the country’s Parliament will consider a constitutional amendment that would effectively allow the president to run for at least another five years.

Protests Across Ouagadougou

Tensions across the capital city were high on Tuesday as pre-dawn violence broke out in several areas of the city. Gendarmes firing tear gas dispersed dozens of youths, who barricaded the country’s main highway in the early morning hours. Hundreds of thousands of people later set off from the capital’s main Place de la Nation square to participate in one of the largest demonstrations against the proposed amendment, with violence erupting near the end of the march and lasting for several hours. According to on the ground sources, security forces fired tear gas in a bid to disperse the protesters, many of whom were clutching iron bars, throwing stones and burning tyres. Makeshift barricades set up by protesters across the city blocked traffic and access to the city’s key areas for several hours. Security forces also charged demonstrators after they apparently got too close to the country’s parliamentary building.

In a bid to keep up the pressure against President Compaore, trade unions and civil society groups have called a general strike for Wednesday, while the opposition has called for a blockade of Parliament in order to prevent the review from taking place.

On Thursday, Burkina Faso’s National Assembly will study the proposed constitutional amendment that would effectively extend the maximum term limit from two to three and allow the president to run for re-election for another five-year term. The country’s opposition however has called for a campaign of civil disobedience to force the president to quit once his term is completed next year. They have described the government’s attempts at extending the terms as a constitutional coup. Civil society groups have also requested that the move be discarded, indicating that the country risked being paralyzed if the amendment went through. Fears of what such a vote may bring have also resonated across the West African region and globally, with the United States disclosing Wednesday that it was “concerned by the spirit and intent” behind the draft bill to scrap the presidential term limits. A statement released by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki indicated that the US is urging “…all involved, including Burkina Faso’s security forces, to adhere to non-violence and to debate this issue in a peaceful and inclusive manner.”

His bid to stay in power however has also angered the public, including many young people in a country where 60 percent of the population are under the age of 25, and effectively have only known one president. The recent demonstrations and protests indicate that a large majority of the population is no longer willing to know the rule and power of one president and are instead opting for democratic change that will see progress.

In power since 1987, when he seized control in an October 1987 coup in which his former friend, Thomas Sankara, was ousted and assassinated, President Compaore has been re-elected president four time since 1991 – to two seven-year terms and two-five year terms. The opposition now fears that if the amendment to the constitution, which is not expected to take previous terms into account, is passed, then this will enable President Compaore to seek re-election three more times, effectively enabling him to stay in power for another fifteen years. Fears that the amendment would pass increased over the weekend when the country’s third largest party in parliament announced that it would back the amendment, giving the ruling party the two-thirds majority it require to make the change without resorting to a referendum as was initially promised.

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Ethnic Tuareg Group Ends Ceasefire Agreement

Posted on in Mali title_rule

An ethnic Tuareg separatist group in Mali has announced that it is ending a five-month ceasefire agreement that was reached with the Malian government back in June of this year.   While the rebels have previously threatened to pull out of the peace deal, accusing the central government in Bamako of failing to fulfil its promises, this is the first time they have formally ended the ceasefire.  The rebels have confirmed that they will take up arms, following violence in the northern city of Kidal, a move which will likely effect the security and stability of the entire country as it heads into a second round of parliamentary elections.

On Friday, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad announced that it would return to war against Mali’s army after indicating that one person was killed, and five others injured, in clashes with soldiers at an airport.  The announcement, which has been described by the group’s leader as “…a declaration of war,” comes one day after clashes occurred between Malian troops and Tuareg protesters who prevented Prim Minister Oumar Tatam Ly from visiting the town of Kidal.  According to Mahamadou Djeri Maiga, vice president of the MNLA, “what happened on Thursday is a declaration of war.  We will deliver this war,” adding that “wherever we find the Malian army we will launch the assault against them.  It will be automatic.  The warnings are over.”

On Thursday, several hundred Tuareg demonstrators occupied an airport runway in order to prevent Mali’s Prime Minister from visiting the rebel-controlled north-eastern town of Kidal.  While protesters indicated on Thursday that Malian soldiers had fired directly at “women and children who were demonstrating peacefully,” the central government has since indicated that its soldiers stationed at the airport had been “taken to task by uncontrollable elements” and had fired warning shots after being shot at and hit with stones.  One person was killed in the clashes on Thursday, while three women and two children were injured.  One of the women is in serious condition.

While Thursday’s incident has confirmed that tensions continue to exist between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels, the end of the ceasefire could potentially threaten security throughout Mali.  Furthermore, this will likely have an impact on the second round of parliamentary elections, which are set to take place 15 December, and Mali’s overall process of returning to civilian rule after a Tuareg uprising that led to a coup last year and the occupation of the northern regions of the country by al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The end to the ceasefire could potentially threaten security in northern Mali.  After eighteen months of a political and military crisis, the peace deal was signed between the rebels and the Malian government in June of this year.  The June accord, which was signed in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, effectively opened the way for voting to take place in Mali, including in Kidal.  Two rounds of a presidential election occurred in July and August.   Furthermore, up until the agreement was reached, the MNLA, whose ultimate goal is the independence of Azawad, had refused to allow any government soldiers or civil servants to enter the town.  Under the June agreement, the rebels remained in Kidal however they were required to return to their barracks under the supervision of UN peacekeepers.  They were also forced to stop carrying arms in public and dismantle all roadblocks.

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