Burkina Faso unions cancel march over violence fears

AFP , Sunday 1 May 2011

Violent protests in Burkina Faso over the past two months give the country's unionists reason to cancel their May Day march

Trade unions and civil society groups in Burkina Faso called off a May Day march here Sunday to avoid violence amid a wave of popular anger against President Blaise Compaore's regime.

"Unfortunately comrades, the information we have is that the route is not secure. If we hold the march now we run the risk of bringing back wounded or dead people," said union spokesman El Hadj Mamadou Nama.

He said, without elaborating, that individuals were planning to infiltrate the march "to sow chaos" and said the rally would be held at a later date.

An AFP correspondent said forces from the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) had been deployed in some Ouagadougou streets.

A message from the unions read by Nama urged supporters to close ranks and and show "courage and optimism" to continue the struggle for better living and work conditions as well as for democracy in Burkina Faso.

This west African nation has been hit by often violent protests over the past two months amid mounting popular anger against Compaore's regime as well as the high cost of living.

An army mutiny broke out from within his own presidential guard in March and this week police staged heir own revolt ot press for higher pay.

On Saturday hundreds demonstrated to demand Compaore's departure.

Protesters brandished placards reading: "Blaise out!", "Blaise resign!" and "United for Blaise Compaore's departure".

Compaore, a former army officer, seized power in a 1987 coup, and has since been re-elected four times in contested elections which saw him win over 80 percent of votes.

In a bid to quell the unrest, he fired his government and several military chiefs, named himself defence minister and appointed a new prime minister, former ambassador to France Luc Adolphe Tiao, but tension persists.

Short link: