Friday, October 31, 2014 5:08 pm
The ousted president of Burkina Faso has left the capital Ouagadougou and fled towards the south of the country, a French diplomatic source said on Friday.
President Blaise Compaore has “left for the south. He’s still in the country,” said the diplomatic source, who did not wish to be named.
The source said he was heading for the town of Po, near the border with Ghana although it was not clear whether the former president intended to remain in the country.
Paris said that Compaore should have little difficulty in travelling across borders as he was not subject to an international travel ban.
Compaore has not asked for refuge in France and such a trip is not being discussed, the source added.
His resignation came as tens of thousands of protesters demanded that he quit immediately after a day of unrest that saw mass demonstrations, with protesters storming and setting fire to parliament.
Observers have drawn a parallel between the protests and the Arab Spring, while the situation is being closely watched across Africa, where at least four heads-of-state are pushing constitutional change to cling to power.
“In order to preserve the democratic gains, as well as social peace… I declare a power vacuum to allow the establishment of a transition leading to free and fair elections within a maximum of 90 days,” Compaore said in a statement read on local television.
Army chief Navere Honore Traore said he would take power “in line with constitutional measures”, a move which will prove hugely unpopular with the protesters, who see him as a close ally of Campaore.
“We do not want General Traore in power. We need someone credible. Traore is Blaise Compaore’s henchman,” said Monou Tapsoaba, an activist with the opposition People’s Movement for Progress.
The protests on Thursday forced Compaore to withdraw plans to try to change the constitution to extend his rule, although he had then vowed to stay in power for another year under a transitional government.
– ‘Black Spring’ –
The protests started as lawmakers prepared to vote on legislation that would allow 63-year-old Compaore to contest elections in November 2015.
They have plunged Burkina Faso into its worst crisis since a wave of mutinies shook the country in 2011.
Compaore was only 36 when he seized power in a 1987 coup in which his former friend and one of Africa’s most loved leaders, Thomas Sankara, was ousted and assassinated.
He has remained in power since, re-elected president four times since 1991 — to two seven-year and two five-year terms.
Compaore is one of a number of sub-Saharan African leaders who have stayed in power for decades.
His bid to cling to power has angered many, particularly young people in a country where 60 percent of the population of almost 17 million is under 25.
Many have spent their entire lives under the leadership of one man and are disillusioned by the establishment running the poor former French colony, which is stagnating at 183rd out of 186 countries on the UN human development index.
Some Burkinabe protesters have likened the protest to the Arab uprisings that began in 2010.
“October 30 is Burkina Faso’s black spring, like the Arab Spring,” Emile Pargui Pare, an official from opposition party the Movement of People for Progress, told AFP earlier this week.