The army strongman who took charge of Burkina Faso since the ouster of long-time leader Blaise Compaore three weeks ago has formally handed power to interim civilian President Michel Kafando.
Lieutenant Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida presented a Burkinabe flag to Kafando on Friday, who waved it before the crowd gathered in a stadium in Ouagadougou for a ceremony attended by six African heads of state.
Zida has been named prime minister in Burkina’s interim government despite international pressure for the army to stand back as the country makes a phased return to democratic rule.
His appointment will ensure the military retains a large say in running the country under Kafando, a 72-year-old former foreign minister and career diplomat.
Kafando vowed to punish those responsible for excesses during the 27-year-long rule of Compaore: “We will settle accounts with all those who have abused justice and who think they can siphon off public funds.”
“The message of the people is clear and we have heard it,” he said. “No more injustice, no more chaos, no more corruption,” Kafando added.
Compaore fled Burkina Faso after his long rule was ended on October 31 by a popular uprising against a constitutional change that could have enabled him to stay in power.
Then second-in-command of the presidential guard, Zida was installed by the military in the immediate aftermath of the uprising against Compaore.
Under intense international pressure and the threat of sanctions if the military retained the post of head of state, an agreement was thrashed out to work towards elections in November 2015.
Both Kafando and Zida are barred from standing in elections scheduled to be held in November next year under the transition deal.