Burkina Faso police use tear gas at protests against Senate
OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) – Police in Burkina Faso fired tear gas Saturday to disperse demonstrators protesting against the creation of a Senate, which they say will enable President Blaise Compaore to extend his 26-year rule.
Brandishing posters that read “No to power for life” and “Enough is enough, go away”, thousands of protestors descended into the streets of the capital Ouagadougou before jumping security barriers. Police responded with tear gas.
A number of people were injured, according to opposition leader Zephirin Diabre, who did not give further details.
The government says its plan to introduce a Senate by September is a way of improving democracy. It is one of a number of reforms announced after massive protests in 2011 almost toppled the leadership.
But opposition leaders believe Compaore, in power since 1987, will be able to use the new chamber to modify a key clause of the constitution limiting presidential terms in time for the 2015 election.
The government was pushing through its plan “at any cost”, said Diabre.
The opposition also says that a new Senate is too costly and an “unacceptable waste” for the impoverished West African nation, where living costs are already high.
A number of other rallies took place around the country including in Burkina Faso’s second city Bobo Dioulasso.
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