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Burkina Faso president defies calls to resign

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Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore said he would not resign as requested by demonstrators, but confirmed he was dropping plans to extend his 27-year rule, in an open letter late Thursday.

The army seized power earlier in the day after the West African country was engulfed by protests against Compaore’s plan to change the constitution to allow him to run for a fifth term in 2015, radio station Omega FM and other media reported.

“I have decided to withdraw the draft of the contentious legislation,” Compaore said in the letter published by Omega online.

The letter also confirmed the dissolution of government, but lifted the “state of siege” imposed earlier by the army.

The moves were to help “open negotiations regarding a period of transition, at the end of which I will transmit power to the democratically elected president,” he said.

The army earlier said parliament was dissolved and a transitional government would rule until elections were held within 12 months.

Demonstrators had gathered late Thursday demanding that Compaore step down, in defiance of a nighttime curfew.

Earlier Thursday, about 500 soldiers from Ouagadougou’s main barracks had joined protesters while other soldiers helped police repress demonstrations.

Protesters clashed with police before entering parliament and setting it on fire.

National radio and television stations were off the air, and internet services were interrupted.

West Africa Democracy Radio in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, said one person had been killed during the protests in Ouagadougou, and that the home of the speaker of the national assembly had been looted.

Clashes and damage to government offices were reported in other parts of the country.

Demonstrators said Compaore’s long rule had allowed his family and allies to grab most economic power. SAPA


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