This landlocked West African country has experienced several deadly attacks by armed groups related to Al-Qaida and ISIL.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Burkina Faso to demand a stronger response to the rising bloodshed following the massacre that killed more than 130 people last month.
Some people walked hundreds of kilometers to participate in an opposition-led demonstration in the capital Ouagadougou. On Saturday, protesters waved red and green Burkina Faso flags and whistled.
Armed groups associated with Al-Qaida and the Islamic State of ISIL (ISIS) were originally based in neighboring Mali and have penetrated into the north and east of the country, launching regular attacks on civilians.
Alpha Yago, an opposition supporter, said during the protest: “We must express our dissatisfaction and express the pain of citizens calling for safety and peace.”
A protester held a placard with a picture of a coffin with a flag on it, which read: “Mr. President, have the courage to make a decision. We’ve had enough!”
This is the first demonstration organized by opposition and civil society groups since President Roch Mark Christian Kabore took office. Re-elected last year.
Kabore had asked the organizers to postpone the march. But opposition leader Eddie Komboygo welcomed “despite the government’s call for boycotts, but large-scale mobilization across the country.”
“Today, from Dori to Campti, from Dedugu to Dibugu, from Ouagadougou to Diapaga, people demonstrated against the deteriorating security situation,” he said.
“In Kaboré’s first term, there were officially more than 1,300 deaths and 1.2 million internally displaced persons,” he added.
“People worry that the second term will be worse than the first because we have had more than 300 deaths since the beginning of this year.”
The anger has been rising since the night of June 4, when The deadliest attack It was carried out in the village of Sorhan.
According to the government, armed men — including “young people between 12 and 14 years old” — killed at least 132 people.
Local sources said the death toll was 160, including many children.
Aristide Ouedraogo, a civil society figure, said, “In light of the recent terrible developments on the security front, it is time to send a strong signal to leaders to unite them.”
Chukwuemeka Eze, executive director of the West Africa Peacebuilding Network, said many people in Burkina Faso have lost faith in the government.
“Every time an attack occurs, the president restricts his communication… People start to feel helpless, and they think the increase in attacks is evidence of the weakness of the Burkina Faso government,” Eze told Al Jazeera.
“The government needs to engage more with the opposition and civil society… and [it needs] Develop some kind of community-based early warning system, based on the people,” he added.
In response to the growing anger, Kabore fired his defense and security minister on Wednesday. Kabore himself took over as Minister of Defense.
Although there are thousands of UN peacekeepers, since the beginning of this year, attacks by rebel groups in the Sahel region of West Africa have increased dramatically, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, where civilians have been the first to bear the brunt.