Burkina Faso to hear soldiers' grievances

Government to hold talks with mutinous soldiers as new military chief vows to restore discipline after days of unrest.

    Smoke rises during riots by street vendors in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital, on Saturday [AFP]

    Burkina Faso's government will hold talks with soldiers to discuss issues which led to a military mutiny and days of unrest across the West African nation.

    The country's army chief, Gen. Nabere Honore Traore, took control of the country's armed forces on Tuesday and pledged to restore discipline.

    Traore decried "undisciplined, even barbaric acts" by soldiers which he said had "seriously tarnished the image of our national army".

    The mutiny, which began with shooting near the presidential palace last Thursday, triggered riots and looting in the capital, Ouagadougou, and in other towns and cities.

    Students have also been protesting while traders angry after their shops and stalls were ransacked by soldiers rioted over the weekend and set fire to the ruling party's headquarters.

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    Meanwhile, a member of the presidential guard who claimed to be a spokesman for the mutinous soldiers declared his loyalty to Blaise Compaore, the country's president, on state television and called for an end to the uprising.

    "We invite our brothers in arms around the country to stop the protests because we now see the damage that can be caused within the civilian population, which we are well advised to protect and defend," said Moussa Ag Abdoulaye.

    Compaore has appointed a new prime minister, Luc-Adolphe Tiao, the country's former ambassador to France, in response to the unrest.

    Tiao has promised "an inclusive government" to solve the crisis.

    "Our society has been through a difficult period," he said.

    "Without peace there will not be democracy, and without peace there will not be development."  

    Compaore, who came to power in a 1987 military coup - in which Burkina Faso's first president, Thomas Sankara, was killed - has faced a series of protests since February, staged first by students and then by soldiers.

    He won a new five-year term in office after taking 80 per cent of the votes in November elections.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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