An Ordinary demonstration in Burkina Faso turned into a massive people?s uprising yesterday, ousting West Africa?s longest serving military dictator cum President, Blaise Compaor?.

President Campaor? appeared intent on holding on to his 27-year reign, slapping a state of emergency on the country in desperation; but the resolve of the sea of heads unprecedented in the history of his tenure at the helm was so overwhelming that he succumbed to their demands to quit.

Demonstrations erupted on Thursday when the Burkinabe Parliament had been due to vote on plans to change the constitution to allow Compaor? to seek re-election next year. At least three people were shot dead and dozens wounded.

With hundreds of thousands packing the Place de la Nation in the capital Ouagadougou for a second day on Friday, and with no sign of international support, particularly from former colonial power, France, Compaor? bowed to public pressure.

?I declare a vacancy of power with a view to allowing a transition that should end with free and transparent elections in a maximum period of 90 days,? Compaor? said in a written statement read by presenters on local radio and television.

The vacuum, which he said had been created following the so called interim government he announced, was immediately filled by his former Aide-de-camp, General Honore Traore.

The General is himself meeting with some opposition members because of his closeness to the ousted President, having served as his Aide-de-Camp.

The demonstrators prefer onetime Defence Minister Kouame who fell out with Compaor? in 2003.Last Thursday was an ordinary day in the life of the now toppled President as he went about his normal duties; but for the expectation of the outcome of the pending vote in Parliament to give him another five-year term. That turned to be his Achilles? Heels.

Demonstrators torched the House of Parliament and marched towards the Place de Nation or presidential palace for a showdown with the recalcitrant President.

The picture of the sea of heads was immediately beamed across the world and for those who have observed the manoeuvres of Compaor? since he overthrew the Marxist- leaning Thomas Sankara, the end appeared to be near.

His announcement of the dissolution of Parliament and government and the formation of an interim administration did nothing to assuage the pain in the hearts of the people and their burning resolve. Their youthful exuberance pushed them on as they dangled placards highly uncharitable to the man whose resignation they demanded.

Some three or so deaths have been recorded and many injured; but for the people of Burkina Faso the end has really justified the means.

A few months ago a similar demonstration, albeit on a small scale, was enacted by pro-Sankara youth who, though never saw the late President, have heard and read enough about him. They demanded an ouster of his suspected killer.

That demonstration was a precursor to what has eventually truncated the presidency of the former paratrooper who undertook his officer cadet training in Cameroon and ended up in France for a paratroopers? course.

It took an announcement from a soldier that Campaor? has stepped down to calm down tempers yesterday.

The spectacular pictures which were captured in Ouagadougou encapsulate what had led to the eventual overthrow of the man who hardly thought he would one day relinquish power.

Foreign correspondents have been very active in Ouagadougou since the uprising commenced. One protester, Sam, told the BBC: ?Blaise Compaor? has gone away, he?s running away and we are happy. The words are not coming so easy because I?m very happy. My children are going to know another President.?

In his statement, Gen Traore said: ?In line with constitutional measures, and given the power vacuum? I will assume as of today my responsibilities as head of state.?

An army spokesman, Lt Col Isaac Zida, later told reporters the constitution had been suspended, but it was unclear whether he was speaking on behalf of Gen Traore.

The exact location of the ousted President is unknown as speculations yesterday suggested that he was heading for the Ghanaian border. Others have suggested other locations.

Mark Woyongo
A heavily-armed convoy believed to be carrying the former President was seen travelling towards the southern town of Po near the border with Ghana, which is home to a large military base.

Ghana?s Interior Minister, Mark Woyongo, says Ghana will not send Compaor? away if he asks for an asylum.

The toppled leader is believed to be on his way to Ghana and Woyongo said it is all okay.

He is expected to enter into Ghana through an unapproved route, according Ghana?s Minister of Interior.

?We will have no choice but to welcome him. That is the practice, we can?t ask him to go back,? Mark Woyongo told Joy FM Friday.

Helicopters were said to have been spotted hovering around the border area yesterday.

BY A.R. Gomda


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