France helped Compaoré flee Burkina Faso unrest, Hollande says

Alain Jocard, AFP | François Hollande and Blaise Compaore speak during a naval parade off the coast of Toulon, August 15, 2014.

France's President François Hollande said Monday that France had facilitated the evacuation of Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaoré, after his ouster last week and urged the military to hand power to a civilian authority.


Compaoré fled the country last week following mass protests against his bid to prolong his 27-year-long rule by standing in elections next year.

Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to Canada’s Quebec, Hollande said France helped ensure that Compaoré was able to leave for the Ivory Coast "without drama" on Friday but denied that France had actively “participated” in his escape.

French President François Hollande: 'To allow for a transition, we made arrangements... to evacuate President Compaoré'

French diplomats had previously confirmed that Compaoré had left the country without providing details.

Hollande told reporters that a civilian authority should organise fresh elections and said that he hoped this would be confirmed "in the coming hours".

‘Not here to steal power’

Speaking in Ouagadougou earlier in the day, Burkina Faso's de facto military leader, Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, said a transitional government founded on “consensus” would soon take power.

"The executive branch will be led by a transitional body within a constitutional framework ... This transitional body will be headed by a person appointed by the consensus of all actors in public life," Zida said.

"We're not here to steal power.”

Compaoré was forced to resign Friday after thousands took to the streets to protest his attempts to change the constitution to allow him to stand for re-election.

After several days of chaos the military took over, but it has since come under pressure from both the political opposition and the international community to allow a civilian transitional body to oversee fresh elections.

Compaoré has taken shelter at the luxury "Villa des Hotes", a walled government mansion with manicured lawns and wrought-iron gates that remain firmly locked.

Compaoré, his wife Chantal and their entourage were spotted rolling towards the flat-roofed villa in a 27-car convoy. Since then, nothing has been heard from the 1970s complex, which the Ivory Coast's government uses as a semi-official residence for visiting dignitaries.

Compaoré was only 36 when he seized power in a 1987 coup in which president Thomas Sankara was ousted and assassinated.

His bid to hold on to power particularly angered young people in a country where 60 percent of the population of almost 17 million is under 25. Many have grown up under only Compaoré's rule and are disillusioned by the leadership in a country that is languishing at 181st out of 187 countries on the UN human development index.

Known in colonial times as Upper Volta, the country won independence from France in 1960 and changed its name in 1984 to Burkina Faso ("the land of upright men").

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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