Hours after thousands of protesters charged Burkina Faso’s parliament and the nation’s main airport was shut down, Burkina Faso’s army chief announced on Thursday that the national assembly will disband and a transitional government will take over for a maximum of 12 months. “A transitional body will be put in place in consultation with all parties. A return to the constitutional order is expected in no more than 12 months,” General Honoré Traoré reportedly told a news conference on Thursday. Traoré did not say who would lead the transitional government, according to Reuters.
Burkina Faso government officials were set to vote Thursday on a measure that would change the country’s constitution to allow President Blaise Compaoré to run for re-election despite his impending term limit. But violent protests in Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou left city hall and the nation’s ruling party’s headquarters in flames ahead of the vote. Demonstrators were also seen burning government documents and destroying computer equipment. “We did this because Blaise was trying to stay too long,” a protester told Reuters. “We are tired of him. We want a change. He must go.”
Government forces allegedly fired tear gas into the crowds to halt their bid to seize parliament. Reports have suggested that the government proposal to allow Compaoré, 63, to say in office was withdrawn in light of Thursday’s events, but they have yet to be confirmed. The amendment would likely have passed if a vote was held, Al-Jazeera reports.
All flights in and out of the Ouagadougou Airport have been canceled until further notice, due to the violent anti-government demonstrations. The airport handles 98 percent of commercial air traffic to Burkina Faso.
Compaoré seized power over the West African nation through a coup in 1987 and has since ruled the country with a firm grip and Marxist ideals. Compaoré has faced increasing diplomatic pressure over the past year to step down in 2015, but a proposed constitutional amendment that would prolong his rule was announced on Oct. 21. Compaoré is an ally of the United States and France. However, the European Union and France have each stated their opposition to the extension of his presidency.