In Burkina Faso, violent protests against plan to extend leader’s rule
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Demonstrators surged through the dusty streets of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, on Thursday, overrunning state broadcasters, setting fire to the Parliament building and torching the homes of relatives of President Blaise Compaoré in a swelling of protest against his plans to extend his 27 years in office.
After several hours of increasingly violent protests, a government spokesman announced that a bill seeking to extend the presidential term had been dropped, or at least delayed. The statement did nothing to quell the protests.
Elsewhere in the city, opposition leaders demanded the resignation of Compaoré, a former soldier who seized power in a coup in 1987.
In a statement Thursday, France, the former colonial power, which operates a special forces base in Burkina Faso, said it “deplored the violence that has taken place in and around the National Assembly” in Ouagadougou and urged calm. France regards Compaoré as a crucial regional ally in its efforts to confront Islamic militants in the broader Sahel region that have ties to al-Qaida. Burkina Faso, formerly called Upper Volta, is home to around 3,600 French citizens.
The U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou said in a statement that the United States was “deeply concerned” by the violence and urged “all parties including the security forces” to seek a peaceful outcome.
For three consecutive days, the capital has been rocked by protests, which could have a wide influence in other African countries whose leaders are considering measures that would extend their time in office.
“It is over for the regime,” demonstrators shouted after Traoré’s announcement, according to The Associated Press. “We do not want him again.”
—Hervé Taoko and Alan Cowell The New York Times
Post reporter’s family asks Iran to free him
The family of the Washington Post’s Iran correspondent, who has been jailed without explanation or charges since July 22, on Thursday called for the Iranian authorities to release him and said his incarceration was a farce.
In a statement posted on a website created to publicize the effort to free the correspondent, Jason Rezaian, 38, a dual Iranian-American citizen from California, his mother and brother wrote that it was clear the authorities had failed to find anything incriminating. Otherwise, they wrote, he would have been formally charged by now.
The statement came as Rezaian spent his 100th day of confinement in Iran. He has not been permitted to make or receive telephone calls from Tehran’s Evin Prison, and cannot hire a lawyer because he has not been formally accused.
“Unlike previous high profile cases, the Iranian government has never even pretended that they had proof to suspect Jason of wrongdoing to justify the detention,” read the statement by his mother, Mary Breme Rezaian, and brother, Ali.
“So they have spent 100 days interrogating him in an attempt to find something, anything, that they could use to justify his unwarranted detention,” they wrote.
“After 100 days it’s time for Iran to concede Jason’s innocence and release him. Doing that would demonstrate to the world much more strength on the part of the Iranian leadership than allowing this farce to continue.”
The State Department and The Washington Post have repeatedly called on Iran to release Rezaian.
—Rick Gladstone, The New York Times