African leaders tackle Burkina Faso crisis

Presidents of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal move to prevail on the military to hand power back to civilian leaders.

    African leaders tackle Burkina Faso crisis
    The military had filled the power vacuum left by Blaise Compaore, who was forced to resign last week [EPA]

    African leaders are meeting to pressure the Burkina Faso army into keeping its promise to hand power back to civilians within a fortnight after the fall of president Blaise Compaore.

    Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida, the interim leader appointed by military, told unions on Tuesday that he would return the country to civilian rule, a day after the African Union threatened sanctions if the army did not give up power.

    The presidents of Ghana, Nigerian and Senegal arrived in Burkina Faso on Wednesday to press the issue, as Canada suspended its aid to the impoverished West African country and other nations considered similar moves.

    The military had filled the power vacuum left by Compaore, who was forced to resign last week after 27 years in power, chased out by a violent popular uprising that some had likened to the Arab Spring.

    France said it helped facilitate the evacuation of Compaore saying it was necessary to prevent a "bloodbath" in the former French colony.

    In the aftermath of Compaore's exit, the army's decision to take over the reins of the country once again sparked angry protests at home and prompted threats of sanctions from the international community.

    Unity government 

    But the army has claimed that "power does not interest us" and pledged to install a unity government with a "broad consensus".

    Zida has repeated the promise in meetings with opposition and civil society leaders as well as foreign envoys.

    "If everyone agrees, there is no reason that the transition [from military rule] shouldn't be done within two weeks," Zida said on Tuesday, according to union leader Joseph Tiendrebeogo.

    Mogho Naba, the "king" of Burkina Faso's leading Mossi tribe, told the AFP news agency he had met Zida on Tuesday.
    "They came to tell us that they would hand back power to civilians," he said. "The country should regain peace and quiet."

    The army has made similar pledges over the past couple of days, without taking concrete action so far.

    Under the constitution, which has been suspended, the parliament speaker was supposed to take over as transitional leader.

    But the whereabouts of current speaker Soungalo Ouattara, a close ally of Compaore, are unknown.

    French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that Paris helped evacuate Compaore to avoid worsening the situation and provoking a possible "bloodbath".

    Compaore and his wife are now staying in a luxury government mansion in Yamoussoukro, the capital of neighbouring Ivory Coast.

    Ivorian President AlassaneOuattara issued a statement late on Tuesday saying Compaore "can stay as long as he wishes in Ivory Coast".



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