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President of Burkina Faso Officially Resigns Amid Turmoil

After a day of riots and destruction, Burkina Faso's president is forced out of office.
October 31, 2014, 3:25pm
Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo (Creative Commons)

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré issued a statement on Friday formally announcing his resignation, the day after violent protests in the capital forced him to dissolve the country's government.

"As of today, Compaoré is no longer in power," Col. Boureima Farta said to a crowd of thousands of protesters who were gathered in front of the army headquarters on Friday, The Guardian reported.

Compaoré ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years, after he came to power following a 1987 coup. The now former president set off protests, which escalated into riots on Thursday morning, with his attempts to maneuver the country's parliament to amend a law restricting presidential term limits. Compaoré sought be reelected, even though he was bound by those term limits.

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Protesters stormed and set fire to the parliament building in Ouagadougou, the country's capital, before burning other government buildings and residences of government officials. Early in the day, the protests forced the government to call off the vote on term limits, but later they expanded to the point that Compaoré dissolved the government.

Police Unleash Tear Gas and Batons on Protesters in Burkina Faso. Read more here.

Chaos enveloped the capital as looters rode around on motorbikes with stolen televisions in their laps and riot police fired into the crowds. Government helicopters circled above, dropping tear gas canisters into the fray. At least three people were killed in the protests, Robert Bibia Sangare, managing director of Ouagadougou's larges medical facility, told BusinessWeek.

The control measures failed to restrain the protesters, who were gaining steam as the day went on and by the evening Compaoré had little choice but to bend to the wishes of his people, or risk being overrun.

"I dissolve the government from today so as to create conditions for change. I'm calling on the leaders of the political opposition to put an end to the protests. I'm pledging from today to open talks with all the actors to end the crisis," Compaoré's statement on Thursday said.

That statement came as protesters were marching toward the presidential palace. Initially, Compaoré said he would no longer seek reelection, but would remain in office until a transitional government was established, BBC reported. But, spurred by their effectiveness, protesters pushed on and demanded the president's resignation.

After Compaoré's resignation, the military announced that it had taken control of the country and likely will remain in control until a government can be installed.