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Violent protests force out Burkina Faso president

Compaore’s 27-year rule ends with resignation

President Blaise Compaore finally stepped down today, ending his 27-year rule and handing over to joint chief of staff General Honore Traore.

The president was forced out of office by a burst of violent protests in which parliament was set ablaze, with protesters refusing to accept anything short of his immediate resignation.

Opposition protesters burst into cheers in a square in the capital Ouagadougou when they heard the announcement of his resignation on their radios.

They had been massing for a second day to push for Mr Compaore to leave immediately after their mass anger had already persuaded him not to run again for election.

"I declare that I'm leaving power in order to have a free and transparent election in 90 days," the outgoing president announced in a statement read out on television and radio stations.

"For my part, I think I have fulfilled my duty."

He said that he had decided to leave power "in light of the severely deteriorated socio-political situation and the threat of division in our national army and out of a desire to preserve the peace."

With the parliament and the government dissolved a day earlier, the military, which has had a visible role in this crisis, stepped into the vacuum.

Mr Compaore headed south to the city of Po, near the border with Ghana, but it is not clear if he was trying to cross.

An opposition coalition had been urging the president for months not to seek re-election for what would have been his fifth term in power, but the ruling party looked set to push a Bill through parliament on Thursday that would have allowed him to run again.

Determined to block the vote, protesters stormed the building, the vote was suspended and the military announced the legislature had been dissolved and a transition government would be formed.

Mr Compaore said he would lead until the new elections, but protesters rejected that plan and gathered again yesterday, demanding that he step down immediately.

He first came to power following the October 1987 overthrow of then president and revolutionary hero Thomas Sankara, who was killed in the coup.

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