Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Looting In The Land Of Honest Men

News out of Africa lately has been dominated by coverage from Libya, but it's worth noting the unrest that is occurring in some of the other parts of the continent as well, like the recent reports coming out of the landlocked and often overlooked country of Burkina Faso, where an army “mutiny” that started last week is showing signs of spreading across the country. Soldiers began protesting last Thursday in the capital, Ouagadougo; those protests turned violent, with dozens of people reported injured in street fighting. The soldiers then were said to have gone on a looting rampage of shops in the capital, perhaps an ironic action in a country whose name loosely translates to “the land of honest men” (Burkina Faso was formerly known as Upper Volta). The motivation for the protests seems somewhat unclear with one government spokesman quoted by Reuters as saying “we don't know what they want,” after soldiers began firing their weapons into the air last Thursday. The soldiers' action may simply be following an outbreak of public protests against the regime of President Blaise Compaore, who has ruled the country since 1987, the BBC is also saying that the protests by the army could be fueled in part by unpaid housing allowances as well as anger that the members of the military aren't paid as well as the members of the elite presidential guard.

The BBC is also reporting that as of Monday military protests had spread to three of Burkina Faso's other major cities and that members of the presidential guard apparently joined in on the protests in Ouagadougo. While Burkina Faso may not have the international importance of Libya, it is still worth noting what's going on in this corner of Africa as well.

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