Burkina Faso

Massive opposition protests against extending Presidential term limits


Opposition leaders say that as many as a million people turned out on Tuesday in a mass protest against government plans to extend the term limit of President Blaise Compaoré under Article 37 of the Constitution.

The government is planning to change the number of terms the President can stand for re-election in a special motion in Parliament on Thursday. Blaise Compaoré took power in a coup d’etat in 1987 and has ruled the country ever since. The 63 year old has been re-elected four times since 1991, in 1998, 2005 and 2010. In 2005 constitutional limits were introduced allowing Compaoré a further two terms, with the previous terms in office not taken into account. He was re-elected in 2010 with 80.2% of the vote, a similar figure to the three previous elections. The new proposal would allow him to stand for a further three terms in office.

Compaoré’s Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) has 70 seats in the 127 seat National Assembly. The third largest party in parliament has said that it will back the constitutional change, giving the ruling party the two thirds majority required to make the amendment when smaller parties are added into the total.

The protests in the capital Ouagadougou started off peacefully, but towards the end of the day a group of around four hundred protesters stayed on to battle it out with the police. The main opposition CFOP-BF have called for a campaign of civil disobedience against the government and today (Wednesday) the main trade unions have called for a general strike.

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