OUAGADOUGOU: Angry demonstrators went on the rampage in Burkina Faso on Thursday, setting parliament ablaze in a surge of violence that forced the government to scrap a vote on controversial plans to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule.
Hundreds of people broke through a heavy security cordon and stormed the National Assembly building in the capital Ouagadougou, ransacking offices and setting fire to cars, before attacking the national television headquarters.
One man was killed in the chaos that erupted in the poor west African nation shortly before lawmakers were due to vote on the controversial legislation, AFP correspondents said.
The government, facing its worst crisis since a wave of mutinies shook the country in 2011, later announced it was calling off the vote but it was not immediately clear if this was a temporary move.
Black smoke billowed out of smashed windows at the parliament building, where several offices were ravaged by flames, including the speaker’s office, although the main chamber so far appeared to be unscathed.
Several hundred protesters also broke into the headquarters of the national television station RTB, pillaging equipment and smashing cars, the correspondents said.
The ruling party headquarters in Burkina Faso’s second city of Bobo Dioulasso and city hall was also torched by protesters, witnesses said.
“The president must deal with the consequences,” said Benewende Sankara, one of the leaders of the opposition which had called for the people to march on parliament over the Compaore law.
The country has been tense for days in the run-up to Thursday’s vote over the constitutional changes, which the European Union had warned could jeopardise stability.
Police were out in force around the parliament after mass rallies called by the opposition earlier this week but failed to stop the onslaught despite using tear gas against the protesters.
The European Union has urged the government to scrap the legislation, warning that it could “jeopardise… stability, equitable development and democratic progress”, and had called for all sides to refrain from violence.
Several thousand protesters had marched through the capital on Wednesday, the day after street battles erupted during a mass rally by hundreds of thousands of people against what they see as a constitutional coup by supporters of Compaore.