Burkina Faso parliament set on fire

Burkina Faso parliament set on fire

Anti-government protesters in Burkina Faso have set parliament ablaze in a surge of violence that forced the government to at least temporarily scrap a vote on constitutional amendments that would allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year rule.

Hundreds of people broke through a heavy security cordon and stormed the National Assembly building in the capital Ouagadougou on Thursday, ransacking offices and setting fire to cars, before attacking the national television headquarters.

Police had tried to control the crowds using tear gas, but the demonstrators were able to push through the barricades and make their way into parliament.

The crowd then headed towards the presidency as a government helicopter flew overhead, shooting teargas at protesters.

Lawmakers had been due to vote on Thursday on a government plan to change the constitution to allow Compaore – who took power in a coup in 1987 – to stand for re-election again next year, when he was due to stand down.

Most deputies had not yet arrived for the vote when protesters, who had set up barricades outside parliament from early on Thursday, stormed the building.

The government, facing its worst crisis since a wave of mutinies shook the country in 2011, later announced it was calling off the vote but it was not immediately clear if this was a temporary move.

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