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Protests on price rises spread to the capital

Violence spread to the capital, Ouagadougou, early on 28 February as demonstrators took to the streets to denounce the high price of food and fuel. Shops and petrol stations were shut down.

The unrest took place throughout the day with young men burning tyres and igniting fires, using hit-and run tactics despite a heavy police presence.

“The choice is to demonstrate or to die of hunger,” a demonstrator, who asked not to be named, told IRIN. “We have chosen to get our voice heard and I think we are succeeding.”

No casualties have yet been reported yet but a police officer told IRIN off the record that they had made 10 arrests.

Soldiers have surrounded the presidential palace and are stepping up their presence around the city.

The unrest the day after the government announced that, rather than lower the price of basic goods as people were demanding, it would reduce taxes on imported goods.

The measures came following demonstrations in Bobo-Dioulasso on 20 February, leading to 264 arrests. 

The government also announced it would start to negotiate with local producers to lower the costs of cooking oil and sugar.

But opposition parties said the government was doing too little too late.

“[There are] links between the government’s price reductions and the violence and we think these measures should have been assessed earlier,” Phillipe Ouédraogo, spokesman of the Burkina Faso opposition told IRIN after meeting with a governmental delegation.

In early February the government issued a communiqué denouncing price increases of between 10 and 65 percent on food and fuel but it did not take any measures to curb the prices as promised.

Global food prices are continuing to soar, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, triggering riots over the cost of living in many Sahelian countries, including Mauritania and Senegal, which are highly dependent on imported wheat and rice.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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