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Burkina Faso general takes over as Compaore resigns

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Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore has announced his resignation, following violent protests at his attempt to extend his 27-year rule.

Mr Compaore issued a statement saying the presidency was now vacant and urging elections within 90 days.

Army chief Gen Honore Traore said he had taken over, but it was not clear if he had the backing of all the military.

Crowds danced and cheered in the capital, Ouagadougou, after Mr Compaore’s resignation was broadcast.

On Thursday, protesters angry at his attempt to amend the constitution had set fire to parliament and government buildings.

Burkina Faso

There was a euphoric atmosphere in the Place de la Nation as the thousands of protesters heard that Blaise Compaore was no longer their president.

The demonstrators sang the national anthem. But the crowds have no intention of going home, as they are unhappy that Gen Honore Traore has been appointed as transitional head.

He is seen as too close to the ousted president – he was Blaise Compaore’s aide de camp – and for these demonstrators that is not enough of a rupture with the past. They have been chanting “Lougue, Lougue, Lougue” – the name of retired Gen Kouame Lougue, a former defence minister who fell out with Mr Compaore in 2003.

“This is not a coup – this is a popular uprising,” one man in the crowd said. “We rose up, we fought and we won, and now we are saying we want this man to lead. We don’t want Honore, we want Kouame Lougue.”

How Blaise Compaore sparked his own downfall

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‘Social peace’

Mr Compaore had earlier vowed to remain in power until a transitional government completed its work in 2015, although he had agreed not to seek another term.

However, the opposition continued to demand that he resign – a key leader, Zephirin Diabre, urged protesters to occupy public spaces.

After the resignation, Mr Diabre told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme: “We are all relieved by what is happening – and this is our demand for so long so we are very happy – and we need to work on the transition to take care of our country.”

It could be a year before elections are held, he added, “because you need to revive the constitution, maybe draw up a new constitution. That would take at least 12 months”.

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