Burkina students maintain protest, army quietens down

OUAGADOUGOU — Students demonstrated across Burkina Faso Tuesday to support striking professors, witnesses said, but troops in the capital Ouagadougou returned to barracks after a protest late Monday.

Normal activities resumed in the morning around the main gendarmerie base, Camp Paspanga, where the National Guard is also housed, and streets were clear in the area where National Guard soldiers had fired shots into the air the previous evening.

An army officer told AFP that the guardsmen had been disarmed.

“They were demanding bonuses to which they are really not entitled, aligned on those given to the Presidential Guard,” he said, adding that he regretted that they “did not warn the hierarchy of their claims.”

Several hundred students demonstrated Tuesday in the capital to support teachers who are also demanding bonuses. On Monday, several thousand students had marched in Ouagadougou, burning tyres in the streets and damaging a public building.

Youth demonstrations also took place at Gaoua in the southwest, Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city in the country, in the west, Ouahigouya and Kaya in the north and Koudougou in the west, according to residents.

Several army mutinies, sometimes marked by violence and looting, and notably involving the Presidential Guard, have broken out in the capital and other cities of the landlocked and poor west African country since February.

The financial demands of the Presidential Guard were rapidly met.

Confronted with violent demonstrations by students and other sectors of the population, President Blaise Compaore is facing his worst challenge since he came to power in a coup in 1987.

In a bid to quell the unrest, he has fired army and police chiefs and formed a new government, naming himself defence minister, while promising subsidies on basic commodities and other urgent measures.
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