OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso’s national reconciliation commission on Monday called for the dismantling of an elite military unit accused of killing demonstrators during last year’s uprising that toppled the president of nearly three decades.
The Presidential Security Regiment has long been a source of resentment within the armed forces because of its large budget and its suspected involvement in crimes under former President Blaise Compaore, who was forced to resign amid the uprising last October. Many believe the regiment played a role in political killings such as the 1998 murder of journalist Norbert Zongo.
More recently, Amnesty International and other rights groups have accused the regiment of opening fire on unarmed demonstrators during the anti-Compaore protests. In Ouagadougou, for example, soldiers allegedly shot at demonstrators gathered near the home of Compaore’s younger brother, one of the former regime’s most unpopular figures.
The regiment has also created tension during the yearlong post-Compaore transition period, having pressed for the resignation of current Prime Minister Lt. Col. Yacouba Isaac Zida and some transition cabinet members.
Releasing its report on Monday, the reconciliation commission said the regiment should be dismantled and replaced by police and military police.
Reform of the army should also be addressed by a new constitution, said Guy Herve Kam, a member of the reconciliation commission.
“We need an article in the new constitution that deals with the army. The army needs to be republican,” Kam said at a press conference Monday.
The commission was charged with looking at allegations of human rights violations since Burkina Faso’s independence in 1960. It received more than 5,000 complaints including alleged killings, torture and mistreatment by the security forces.
BRAHIMA OUEDRAOGO, Associated Press
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