OUAGADOUGOU (AA) – Tens of thousands marched Saturday in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou against a proposed constitutional referendum on amendments that would allow President Blaise Compaore to seek a third five-year term in office.
Thousands showed up at the starting point of the march in the south of the capital in the presence of the country’s opposition leaders, an Anadolu Agency correspondent reported.
Protesters carried banners and chanted slogans critical of the president, including “Free Kossyam [the presidential palace],” “No to referendum,” and “We are in need of a strongman,” the latter of which referring to a recent remark by Compaore that there is “no strong institutions without strong men. ”
The opposition had pledged massive rallies against any plan by the president to hold a popular referendum on constitutional amendments to allow him to run in the 2015 polls.
The 63-year-old leader had hinted at such possibility during the recent U.S.-Africa summit in Washington. Under Burkinabe constitution, the president has a maximum of two terms in office.
“You allowed the opposition to show the world that it is in harmony with their people,” opposition leader Zephirin Diabre told the crowd. “When the people stands up, strong men tremble and hide!”
As the opposition’s march passed near the presidential palace, around 3,000 supporters of Compaore’s ruling Congress for Democracy and Progress organized a counter rally to show support for the president, eyewitnesses said.
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