Burkina army pledges ‘consensus’ govt

Romaric Ollo HIEN, AFP

The army has stepped into a power vacuum left by Compaore, who was forced to resign last week in the wake of violent demonstrations over attempts to extend his 27-year-rule. The Burkina military has named Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida as interim head of state, sparking angry protests and prompting threats of sanctions from the international community. Zida has claimed that “power does not interest us” and pledged to install a unity government with a “broad consensus”. But the African Union kept the pressure on, setting a 14-day deadline at a crisis meeting in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday for Burkina’s military to give up power. “After that period we are going to apply sanctions,” said Simeon Oyono Esono, head of the AU’s Peace and Security Council. “The African Union is convinced that the change has been against democracy.”

Washington said it was still “gathering facts” on the situation but could yet withdraw its US$14 million (11 million euro) annual aid package to Burkina Faso. Former colonial power France said late Monday it hoped for an announcement on the return of civilian rule “in the coming hours”. For elections to be held, “it must be a civilian power that does it”, said French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of a visit to Quebec. Hollande also said France had been in direct contact with Compaore prior to his ouster last week. “I made a statement on Friday asking Blaise Compaore to make the right decision, that is to leave,” said Hollande, adding that France had intervened to ensure he escaped “without drama” although its personnel did not directly participate.

Compaore and his wife have taken refuge in neighbouring Ivory Coast where they are being put up in a luxury government mansion in the capital Yamoussoukro.