Clashes in Burkina over move to extend leader`s rule

Youths clashed with security forces in Burkina Faso early Tuesday at the start of a week of protests over a move to let the country`s long-serving president extend his rule beyond 30 years.

Gendarmes in the capital Ouagadougou charged to disperse several dozen youths barricading the country`s main highway, firing tear gas at the crowd who hurled stones in response, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

The pre-dawn clashes kicked off a day of protests called by the opposition against what it calls a constitutional coup by supporters of President Blaise Compaore.

Schools and universities closed Monday for a week across the impoverished west African nation as the opposition vowed to fight a move to extend his 27-year-rule.

The National Assembly will on Thursday study a proposed constitutional amendment that would extend the maximum term limit and allow Compaore to run for another five-year term next year.

Compaore`s bid to stay in power has angered the opposition and much of the public, including many young people in a country where 60 percent of the population of 17 million are under 25.

Protesters have erected barricades and burned tyres in the capital since the proposal was announced on October 21, with hundreds of women demonstrating with spatulas in their hands on Monday.

Secondary school children deserted classes on Friday to join the protests, creating major disruptions in Ouagadougou.

Civil society groups have also asked for the project to be dropped, saying the country risked being paralysed if the amendment went through. 

The opposition has called upon the public to blockade parliament to prevent the review from taking place. 

Compaore has been in power since he led a coup in 1987 and has been reelected president four times since 1991.

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