Burkina Faso protests lead to attacks on government buildings
Anti-government protests in the West African country of Burkina Faso have taken a violent turn as demonstrators have started to damage official buildings. The Wall Street Journal reported that the protests are centered around the long-term rule of Blaise Compaore, who holds the title of president and has been democratically elected, although he became leader through a violent coup in the 1980s. Changes to the nation's constitution in the years since have kept Compaore in power. Even though provisions introduced imposed various laws related to term limits, they were eventually removed. Low presidential election turnouts have also helped to keep Compaore in charge. In all, he has ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years.
Attacks on the government buildings escalated to the point that many in the capital city of Ouagadougu were burned down by a group of protesters that was thousands strong, according to The Wall Street Journal. One group broke into Burkina Faso's national assembly building, where the country's unicameral legislature was about to approve a measure that would allow Compaore to potentially extend his rule for another term. Other buildings that were severely damaged or destroyed by protestor fires include city hall, the headquarters of the ruling political party and the president's offices as well.
The New York Times said that the rise in violent protests is likely the most serious threat to Compaore's presidency during his 27-year reign, and the resulting level of damage caused by protestors is significant. State-sponsored television and radio stations weren't operating as of Oct. 30, causing problems with crisis communications for residents of the country. This has caused issues related to relaying important information from the government, such as a decision to rescind the proposed amendment that would have allowed Compaore to run for a further term in the upcoming election.
A dangerous situation
For businesses with fixed assets in the area or employees traveling to Burkina Faso, the instability in the capital is a serious concern. The protests are of a violent nature and government security forces haven't been able to control or effectively contain the groups. Besides the widespread fires, gunshots have been exchanged and Burkina Faso law enforcement officers have used tear gas and other crowd control measures as well. The protests have reached a point where the future course of the country is hard to determine.
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