Thousands protest food prices in Burkina Faso

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in several towns in Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, on Wednesday to protest the rising cost of living as part of a three-day general strike.

In the capital, Ouagadougou, demonstrators started marching from the headquarters of the main unions and the city centre, under the watchful eyes of a large police force.

The protesters were to return to the union headquarters later for a meeting of a coalition of about 20 unions and civil organisations united against the price hikes.

People carrying pots and pans and empty sacks of rice shouted slogans like “No to the freezing of salaries and pensions” and “No to the rising cost of living”.

Similar protests brought together several thousand people in the central town of Koudougou, Bobo Dioulasso (west) and Fada-Ngourma, to the east, local residents and union leaders said.

Further demonstrations and rallies are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday to press demands for a 25% pay increase for public, para-public and private-sector workers, retroactive to January 2001.

“The population turned out in force, people responded to our calls. We are happy with this massive turnout,” union coalition spokesperson Jean Mathias Liliou said.

The coalition also wants to see a “significant and effective” reduction in prices, the introduction of price controls, and a regular supply of such foodstuffs as rice, maize, beans, oil, salt, sugar and milk.—AFP

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