April 29, 2011 / 7:57 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Burkina president says army vows to end protests

* Compaore says army promises to end protests

* Four students wounded after police fire on demonstrators

* Turmoil has posed biggest threat yet to his rule

(Adds police firing on protes, detailst)

By Mathieu Bongkoungou

OUAGADOUGOU, April 29 (Reuters) - Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore said on Friday government soldiers had promised to end a rash of violent protests that have raised fears for the stability of the West African state.

Soldiers have ransacked shops and fired weapons during months of demonstrations over living conditions that, analysts say, have threatened Compaore’s 24-year-rule.

Civilians have also taken to the streets in the usually placid country over rising food and fuel prices.

In the latest sign of unrest on Friday, police fired live rounds at students protesting in the town of Manga, 100 km (60 miles) outside the capital Ouagadougou, injuring four, residents said.

“They have promised to end the indiscipline that these soldiers have shown lately,” Compaore told reporters after a two-hour meeting with representatives of the armed forces.

He said he had promised to improve the military’s housing, clothing and food allowances.

Compaore this month replaced the government and the head of the armed forces and went on to nominate himself Minister of Defence.

Many of the army protests — which generally centre around pay and living conditions in the barracks — happened in the capital, Ouagadougou, and one involved members of Compaore’s own presidential guard unit.

“I’m very happy with the president’s measures, but now we’re waiting to see his words become actions,” said Gildas Some, a Burkinabe soldier.

Students burned down a police station in during the clashes with security forces in Manga, residents told Reuters.

Compaore, a former army captain himself, seized power in the cotton and gold producer nation in a 1987 coup.

Despite instituting multi-party rule he has faced little or no effective opposition, and won the last two elections in 2005 and 2010 with an overwhelming majority.

Burkina Faso languishes at the bottom of the U.N.’s Human Development Index and income per head is half the average for sub-Saharan Africa.

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