Burkina Faso President Defies Calls to Resign

Burkina Faso President Defies Calls to ResignBurkina Faso President Defies Calls to Resign

Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore says he will stay in power for a year under a transitional government, following a day of violent protests demanding his resignation.

He said he was withdrawing a controversial law which would enable him to seek another term in office when his current term ends in 2015, according to the BBC. On Thursday, protesters angered by his bid to extend his 27-year rule torched parliament and government buildings.

They want him to resign immediately. The creation of a transitional government was announced on Thursday by army chief General Honore Traore, who said it would "be put in place in consultation with all parties". He also declared the dissolution of parliament. "A return to the constitutional order is expected in no more than 12 months," he added, but gave no further details.

In a TV address later on Thursday, Compaore refused to step down but said he would hand over power once the transitional government had completed its 12-month term.

He also said he was lifting a "state of siege" he had declared earlier. He said he would hand over power to a democratically elected government after the transitional administration had completed its term.

He had planned to seek re-election by pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament that would have lifted the limit on presidential terms. But the move triggered demonstrations in the capital, Ouagadougou.

These protests are the most serious yet against Compaore's rule. At least one person was killed in the protests.

The main opposition leader, Zephirin Diabre, said dozens of protesters had been killed across the country by the security forces in a "barbaric escalation of violence".

The military fired live bullets to try to disperse protesters who had occupied parliament. Protesters also surged towards the presidential palace, and a government helicopter flying overhead fired tear gas at them. Witnesses say dozens of soldiers joined the protest in Ouagadougou's main square, including a former defense minister, Gen Kouame Lougue.

The city hall, the homes of MPs, and an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou were also set ablaze. Similar protests hit the south-western city of Bobo Dioulasso, and other towns in the poor West African state. State television went off air after protesters ransacked its headquarters. Compaore first took power in a coup in 1987, and has won four disputed elections since then.

A former soldier, he has faced outbreaks of violence on several occasions, including a military mutiny in 2011. Compaore is a staunch ally of the US and France, which uses Burkina Faso as a base for military operations against militants in the Sahel region.