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Burkina Faso’s army chief announces creation of interim government

‏FRANCE 24 | Screen grab of Burkina Faso army press conference

The head of Burkina Faso’s armed forces, General Honoré Traoré, on Thursday announced the dissolution of the National Assembly as well as the creation of an interim government, which would lead the country for 12 months.

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Traoré did not specify, however, who would be in charge of the new government.

He made the announcement shortly after President Blaise Compaoré issued a statement read on local broadcaster Radio Omega FM stating that he had dismantled the government and declared the country in a state of emergency, with the chief of the armed forces in charge of implementing the decision.

“A transitional body will be put in place in consultation with all parties,” Traoré told a news conference in the capital Ouagadougou. “A return to the constitutional order is expected in no more than 12 months.”

He also imposed a nationwide curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Earlier, in the Radio Omega statement, Compaoré called 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 said.

The leader of the opposition, Zéphirin Diabré, dismissed the state of emergency, demanding Compaoré’s immediate resignation instead.

“The state of emergency is unacceptable. We are calling on the people to show that they are against it,” he told Radio Omega. “The resignation of President Blaise Compaoré is the only thing that can bring peace to the country.”

Parliament set ablaze

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 next year.

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 military.

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 constitutional reform.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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