Burkina Faso’s president says he is ready to discuss a transitional government. Blaise Compaore has pledged to hand over power once the interim regime runs its course.
Compaore also said he would lift a "state of siege" announced earlier Thursday and withdraw a proposed law allowing his re-election. He said he wouldn't leave right away, however.
"With regard to myself, I am available to open talks on a transitional period at the end of which I will hand over power," Compaore said Thursday night in a statement broadcast on BF1 TV.
Since Tuesday, protesters have demonstrated in Ouagadougou against a proposed constitutional amendment to extend Compaore's 27-year reign. On Thursday, thousands - including about 500 soldiers from the capital's main barracks - poured onto the capital city's streets. Some stormed the parliament building.
Cities across the country reported blazes being set to properties belonging to politicians of the ruling political party Congress for Democracy and Progress, including in the second-largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso, and in the central city of Koudougou. At least one person was killed in the violence, according to security forces.
'A transitional body'
Several hours after opposition lawmakers and high-level military officials met, Burkina Faso army chief, General Honore Traore, told reporters in the capital that the government had been dissolved. A curfew was also put into place for 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time (1900-0600 UTC).
"A transitional body will be put in place in consultation with all parties," Traore said. The temporary governing body would hold power "no more than 12 months," he added.
Shortly before General Traore's announcement, President Compaore had reportedly declared a state of siege. An announcer from the Ougadougou station Radio Omega FM had read the statement from the office of the presidency, which also purported that the leader would seek talks with opposition leaders.
Protests have raised concern in the international community, with the EU, US and UN calling for all sides to refrain from violence and seek a peaceful, political solution. On Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dispatched special envoy Mohamed Ibn Chambas to the region to help restore calm.
Compaore seized power in 1987, and his bid to keep his position has angered much of the public, including many young people, in a country where 60 percent of the population is under 25.
mkg/av (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)