The people of Burkina Faso have ended a 27 year old dictatorship in what we can call the most astonishing revolution in contemporary Africa.
Blaise Compaoré who seized power 27 years ago after the assassination of Thomas Sankara on October 15, 1987 has ruled this landlocked nation of West Africa with an iron feast. The reign of Blaise Compaoré was stained with severe Human Rights abuses, arbitrary arrests and the killing of journalists such as Norbert Zongo who was an emblematic figure in the fight against corruption in Burkina Faso.
In 2000, Blaise Compaoré had the constitution amended in a way that he could offer himself two more terms. For the upcoming 2015 election, the power-thirsty dictator decided to amend the constitution once again in order to run for a 6th term; a decision that was unwelcomed by the opposition and the people at large. At first, he planned on organizing a referendum to amend the constitution but knowing his ability to fraud elections; the opposition rejected the referendum and launched a series of street protests that have gathered hundreds of thousands of people since May.
On October 21, Blaise Compaoré announced his plan B which is having the parliament members amend the constitution since his party CDP owns two thirds of the seats (73 of 111). The announcement angered the opposition and the people of Burkina Faso at large, who called for street protests and civil disobedience. On Monday October 27, women took the lead and protested with their kitchen utensils against the planned amendment. The following day, an alleged one million people took over the street of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso and Bobo Dioulasso, the second largest city of the country to say “No” to a constitutional amendment. Protesters clashed with police and destroyed the statue of Blaise Compaoré.
On Thursday October 30th, the scheduled date of the constitutional amendment, a huge angry crowd gathered around the parliament and set it on fire. They also set ablaze Compaore’s party headquarter as well as several government buildings and many government officials and ruling party parliament members houses. The government shut down the internet, radio, television, telephone and all other communication outlets. Military and police forces fired rubber bullets and tear gases at the crowd but that couldn’t contain the angry mob.
Around 2pm UT, the opposition leader Benewende Sankara announced that the army has joined the people and has taken over by toppling Blaise Compaoré. The brother of the deposed president François Compaoré who was said to be second in command tried to flee the country but was caught at the airport by the army which later on shut down the International airport of Ouagadougou.
The army is currently engaging talks with the opposition and foreign diplomats such as to discuss the outcome of this new power shift. For now, the people of Burkina Faso are celebrating their victory all over the world. And hopefully, the future will be brighter for this nation that has been impoverished for almost three decades making it the country with the highest illiteracy rate in the world.