- Burkina Faso - demonstrations - unrest
Capital’s residents remain fearful after soldiers' mutiny
Tensions are still running high in the capital after several days of violence and looting sparked by mutinous soldiers. Despite their disquiet over the events of the past week, residents are echoing the soldiers’ call for change.
Calm returned to Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougu Wednesday, after several days of violence and looting that spread like wildfire across the West African country. The city residents’ remain fearful, however, after the events that were sparked by a soldier mutiny.
Members of the presidential guard fired shots into the capital’s sky on Thursday, demanding unpaid housing allowances. By Monday, soldiers and police in several other cities had joined the protest.
The demonstrations degenerated into riots and looting of small shops and market stalls, and students in the western town of Koudougou reportedly burned down the ruling party’s headquarters.
“People are really afraid of the military because they are the ones that protect us, but now they are against us,” said an Ouagadougu resident, echoing the widespread sentiment that the military acted with little concern for the security of citizens.
Residents also fear soldiers may stage more protests, despite President Blaise Compaore’s government re-shuffle and promise to negotiate with the army.
The riots reflect a deeper malaise across all sectors of society in Burkina Faso, not just among security forces, according to FRANCE 24’s correspondent Emmanuelle Sodji in Ouagadougou.
Sodji reports that two weeks ago a gathering to protest the rising cost of living and demand an end to government corruption drew tens of thousands of people in Ougadougou.
"We are going to fight and keep the pressure up until our demands are met,” warned Bassolma Bazie, the deputy head of the Confédération Générale du Travail, the country’s largest union.
A “Burkinabe spring”?
Compaore’s move to replace cabinet ministers and impose a curfew in the capital has won the president some relative calm, but the recent revolt was the worst crisis to hit his 24-year rule.
Some observers of the impoverished West African country say Burkina Faso is simmering close to its own Arab Spring-inspired blaze. Many of the capital’s residents now fear the military, but place the blame squarely on Compaore.
“Honestly, for us...the president needs to give up his ambitions to run again,” said one middle-aged man. “If he firmly says he won't run for president again, all our problems will disappear immediately.”