Citizens oust expired leader

By Dr. Uchenna Ekwo

When the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki addressed a breakfast press conference earlier this month at the Ford Foundation headquarters in New York, he painted a rosy picture of Africa in the next ten years after in his words “about 90% of current African leaders would have left the scene”. Asked to clarify his statement in terms of whether he thought the current African leaders have failed in the leadership of the continent, he quickly jumped to respond in platitudes and diplomatic speak reporters are used to hearing from public officials like Dr. Mayaki, a national of Niger in Central Africa.
This week the Zambian President died in office and today one of the long standing African leaders—President Blaise Campaore of Bourkina Faso in West African, in keeping with Dr. Mayaki’s prediction was chased out of office by Bourkinabe citizens. News reports from the West African nation says that after violent protests in which demonstrators set fire to Parliament and surged through the streets in a wave of dissent, Blaise Compaoré, the president of Burkina Faso, announced Friday that he had stepped down after 27 years in office.
Reuters reported that a heavily armed convoy carrying the president was seen leaving the capital and heading south toward Po, near the border with Ghana, even as his resignation announcement was being read out on television. It was not clear who would replace him.
The announcement came on the fourth day of turmoil in Ouagadougou, the capital, which culminated in a closed-door gathering of military commanders. On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators stormed Burkina Faso’s parliament to rail against a vote that would alter the constitution and allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule.
Smoke billowed from Burkina Faso’s Parliament building on Thursday. President Blaise Compaoré angered people with his plans to further extend his 27-year rule, inciting the uprising.
Mr. Compaoré had offered negotiations on a transitional government leading to the election of a successor. But opposition leaders urged their followers on Friday to “keep up the pressure,” rejecting his blandishments and calling for his immediate ouster — “pure and simple.”
Protesters celebrated seizing the offices of state television in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, on Thursday. Opposition supporters protested in recent weeks in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, against the rising cost of living.
Earlier on Friday, huge crowds gathered in Ouagadougou, where senior army officers met to decide their next step. One officer, who was not identified by name, told protesters that the “army is henceforth at the side of the people.” News agencies quoted an announcement from the president as saying he had stepped down in face of the protests and calling for elections within 90 days. Overnight, the president said he had “heard the message” from the protesters and understood “the strong desire for change.”
He also abandoned plans to change the Constitution in order to run for office again next year — the issue that has ignited days of protest. But he rejected calls for his immediate resignation.
On Friday, protesters in the capital of this impoverished West African nation urged the military to sweep Mr. Compaoré from office. Demonstrators looted at least two banks and ransacked many stores, residents said.
Opposition politicians appealed to their followers to “keep up the pressure by systematically occupying the public space.”
Mr. Compaoré, a former army officer who seized power in a bloody coup in 1987 ranks among Africa’s longest-serving leaders. He snatched power away from the charismatic Captain Thomas Sankara who changed the country’s name from Upper Volta to its present name – Bourkina Faso.

Dr. Uchenna Ekwo is the President of Center for Media & Peace Initiatives, New York

Posted by on Nov 16 2014. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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