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Protesters Revolt Against Army Takeover in Burkina Faso

Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Ouagadougou on Sunday to express outrage over the declared interim leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida.

by Liz Fields
Nov 2 2014, 5:28pm

Photo by Joe Penney/Reuters

Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Burkina Faso's capital Sunday to express outrage over an apparent army takeover of the country following the resignation of President Blaise Compaoré.

The demonstrators stomped, shouted, and blew whistles as they demanded the immediate reinstatement of a civilian government after the military staged what residents described as a "coup" over the weekend. 

On Saturday, following days of bloody protests that culminated in Compaoré's ouster, the military issued a statement announcing that Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida would preside over a "transition" government.

Presidential guard soldiers were forced to fire into the air as protesters stormed the building of national radio and television broadcaster RTB, according to AFP reporters.

Outside, people carried banners that read "No to the theft of our victory, long live the people!" "Zida go!" and "Zida is Judas."

A few days earlier, the same square in the city's center was the site of violent protests against Compaoré. He was bidding to amend the constitution to allow himself to seek reelection in 2015 and extend his 27-year rule over the country.

Army colonel assumes power in Burkina Faso after president resigns. Read more here.

This video shows protesters gathered in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou.

Compaoré resigned Friday after protesters stormed the country's parliament building and set it alight. Three people died in the resulting chaos, and Compaoré was forced to flee to neighboring Ivory Coast.

Hours after the president stepped down, two senior military officials announced separate claims to the leadership.

On Saturday, the army said it "unanimously" picked Zida as its candidate to "lead the transition period opened after the departure of President Blaise Compaoré."

President of Burkina Faso officially resigns amid turmoil. Read more here.

This footage shows the damage caused to the torched assembly building, a neighbouring hotel, and other buildings damaged during the protests.

The US has also joined in calls for the military to restore power to a civilian government, while the UN threatened possible sanctions if the army failed to meet with the organization and regional African leaders to discuss the country's current political situation.

The military has rejected the characterization of the takeover as a "coup."

"This is not a coup d'etat but a popular uprising," Zida said on a nationally broadcast radio announcement Saturday. "I salute the memory of the martyrs of this uprising and bow to the sacrifices made by our people."

Police unleash tear gas and batons on protesters in Burkina Faso. Read more here.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields