Burkina Faso gets new PM as mutiny spreads

19th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Burkina Faso's ambassador to France was named the African country's new prime minister Monday as police joined soldiers on a rampage and students staged violent protests against President Blaise Compaore's regime.

Soldiers and paramilitary police poured into the streets of the northern town of Kaya, firing shots into the air, torching the home of an army regiment chief and ransacking that of a regional officer, residents told AFP by telephone.

It was the first time police had taken part in the uprising that began in the capital Ouagadougou on Thursday. An official said they were demanding their wages and were to be paid Monday.

Kaya was the fourth town to be affected in the landlocked state, one of the world's poorest countries, after Ouagadougou and the small centres of Po and Tenkodogo in the south.

The ambassador to France, Luc-Adolphe Tiao, was named prime minister late Monday and will replace Tertius Zongo who was dismissed on Friday.

Tiao, a 56-year-old journalist, former director of the state-owned daily newspaper Sidwaya and head of the Superior Communication Council, has never held a government post before.

Meanwhile, protesting youths in Koudougou in western Burkina Faso also turned to violence, burning down the premises of the ruling party and a home of ex-prime minister Zongo, witnesses said.

The demonstration was initially a peaceful one by students and school pupils, residents said, but it degenerated. The home of the headmaster of the town's main school was also torched.

"We want to make the ruling power... look into our concerns" and establish "truth and justice for Justin Zongo and all victims of repression," the students said in a statement sent to AFP.

They were referring to a student who died in a February demonstration, killed by police according to his relatives while authorities said the boy was ill.

The latest wave of protests erupted Thursday as mutineers ran riot in the capital, demanding better pay and housing and food benefits.

Soldiers again briefly fired off shots in a camp near Ouagadougou late Monday.

They "have not received their pay for the month of March," said a source close to the general staff.

"They also want their bonuses to be aligned on those of the presidential guard," he said.

The payment of the March salaries began on Saturday in the capital and continued on Monday in all the garrisons around the country, a military source told AFP.

The housing and food benefits, one of the key demands, had also begun to be paid in all the camps, the source said.

Ouagadougou, which had been shut down since Thursday because of the unrest, was returning to normal Monday, with banks and public offices opening.

But traders refused to open their stalls at the central market, though they were present. On Saturday they had violently protested against the soldiers who looted and burned their businesses during the rampage.

The violence in the capital had seen at least 45 people admitted to hospital with injuries while a number of rapes were also reported, a hospital official told AFP on Saturday.

Po and Tenkodogo were also calm Monday after soldiers had opened fire in the streets and looted shops at the weekend, residents said.

Po, 145 kilometres (90 miles) from Ouagadougou and near the border with Ghana, is symbolic for Compaore, who once headed the military national centre of training and command (CNEC) there.

It was from the CNEC that as a captain Compaore and other commandos launched a military coup in 1983 against president Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo and put their friend and comrade-in-arms, Captain Thomas Sankara, in power in 1983.

But Sankara was killed in 1987 when Compaore led a coup against him and became head of state, going on to win all presidential elections from 1991 to 2010.

© 2011 AFP

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