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Thousands protest Burkina Faso's presidential guard

Yempabou Ahmed Auoba, AFP | Thousands rally at the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, on February 7, 2015, to protest Burkina Faso's presidential guard

Thousands of people on Saturday protested in Burkina Faso calling for the dissolution of the feared presidential guard, a powerful unit within the military.

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The military’s meddling in politics has exposed divisions within the ranks of transitional authorities due to guide Burkina Faso to elections later this year after former president Blaise Compaoré was forced to step down amid mass protests in October.

After several days of crisis talks, the presidential guard, known locally as the RSP, on Friday pledged not to interfere in the transition.

Still, protesters on Saturday gathered in the capital, Ouagadougou, demanding that the unit be scrapped.

“We demand right now and without any conditions the dissolution of the RSP,” said Guy Herve Kam, a spokesman for the civil society groups that organised the march.

Some in the crowds held banners reading, “Threat to the republic” and “No to an army within the army. No to intimidation and threats”.

Under Compaoré, the unit enjoyed special privileges and was better armed and trained than other military units.

During last year’s protests, which left at least 24 people dead and more than 600 injured, Amnesty International accused the elite corps of "excessive and lethal" use of force.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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