Burkina's interim military leader wants transition 'within two weeks'
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Burkina Faso’s interim military leader on Tuesday offered assurances that power could be peacefully handed to a civilian government within the time frame previously set by the African Union.
Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, who was appointed the country’s head of state by the military on Saturday, told a union leader he wanted civilian rule to be restored within two weeks.
“If everyone agrees, there is no reason that the transition (from military rule) shouldn't be done within two weeks," Zida said, according to union leader Joseph Tiendrebeogo.
Earlier, Zida reportedly told an influential tribal leader he was ready to relinquish power. Naba Baongo II, king of the country’s majority Mossi ethnic group (pictured left in main), told reporters Zida had pledged to step aside during a meeting between the two men.
Zida, the former deputy commander of the country’s elite presidential guard, stepped in to fill the power vacuum left by longtime Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaoré, who fled to neighbouring Ivory Coast last week.
Compaoré resigned as leader of the impoverished West African country on Friday following two days of mass protests sparked by his bid to extend his 27-year rule by amending the constitution.
The international community has taken swift measures to end the political crisis in the West African nation.
On Monday the African Union demanded that the country return to civilian rule within two weeks or face sanctions. The regional body dispatched a senior official to the capital of Ouagadougou in a delegation that included the United Nations.
Three West African leaders – Senegalese President Macky Sall, Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Ghana’s John Mahama – were also due in Ouagadougou on Wednesday to press the army to relinquish power.
Zida also met with the head of the constitutional court, which could guide talks on the establishment of a transitional authority that would comply with the national charter.
Also on Tuesday, French President François Hollande confirmed that his country had helped ex-president Compaoré flee the country.
“We did it ... to avoid drama and other convulsions,” he told reporters at a press conference in Quebec City.
France bases some of its special forces in the Burkina capital and is the country’s main bilateral donor.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara met with Compaoré on Tuesday and told reporters that he was welcome to remain in the country “as long as he would like”. He added that Ivory Coast supported a political transition that complied with Burkina Faso’s constitution.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)