Hundreds of demonstrators have stormed parliament in Burkina Faso’s capital in protest against plans to change the constitution that will allow President Blaise Compaoré to extend his 27-year rule.
Police had fired teargas at the protesters to try to prevent them from moving in on the national assembly building in Ouagadougou on Thursday before a vote on the contentious legislation.
The government announced it was calling off the vote, but it was not immediately clear if this was only a temporary move.
About 1,500 people managed to break through the security cordon and ransacked parliamentary offices, set fire to documents, stole computer equipment, and set fire to cars outside, according to AFP correspondents.
Burkina Faso has been tense for days in the runup to the vote. Police and soldiers were out in force around the parliament building after mass rallies called by the opposition earlier this week.
The EU had urged the government to scrap the legislation, warning that it could “jeopardise … stability, equitable development and democratic progress”, and called for all sides to refrain from violence.
Several thousand protesters had marched through Ouagadougou on Wednesday, a day after street battles erupted during a mass rally attended by hundreds of thousands of people in protest against what they see as a constitutional coup by supporters of Compaoré.
Parliament was due to examine a proposed amendment that would allow Compaoré to run for re-election next November.
“30 October is Burkina Faso’s black spring, like the Arab spring,” said Emile Pargui Pare, an official from opposition party the Movement of People for Progress.
Government spokesman Alain Edouard Traoré issued a statement on Wednesday hailing the “vitality” of the country’s democracy despite what he termed anti-government “misbehaviour”. Guardian