African leaders in Burkina to urge army to hand over power

2014-11-05 14:43
Blaise Compaore. (File, AFP)

Blaise Compaore. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Ouagadougou - Three west African leaders arrived in Burkina Faso on Wednesday to pressure the country's army into keeping its promise of a speedy handover of power to a civilian government following the fall of president Blaise Compaore.

The presidents of Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal flew into Ouagadougou to press the issue, after Canada suspended its aid to the impoverished West African nation and other nations considered similar moves.

Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida, the interim leader appointed by Burkina Faso's military, told unions on Tuesday that he would return the country to civilian rule within two weeks, a day after the African Union threatened sanctions if the army failed to relinquish power within that timeframe.

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

Little ceremony

There was little ceremony as the leaders - Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan, Ghana's president John Dramani Mahama and Macky Sall of Senegal - arrived. Zida met them at the airport, but national anthems were not played, an AFP reporter said.

The leaders were to hold talks at a hotel near the presidential palace and were expected to fly home in the evening.

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 abroad.

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.

Peace and quiet

"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 AFP 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.

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 Compaore ally, are unknown.

Handover 'within two weeks'

French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that Paris helped evacuate Compaore to prevent a potential "bloodbath".

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

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has said Compaore "can stay as long as he wishes".

Meanwhile, international donors whose funding is instrumental in financing impoverished Burkina Faso's domestic budget and external trade, are watching the situation with concern.

Canada, which provided some $35.6m in aid between 2012 and 2013, raised the pressure on Tuesday by suspending development assistance.

It said funding would be restored when a "legitimate and accountable civil authority has been re-established".

Washington said it was still "gathering facts" but could yet withdraw its $14m annual aid package.

International mediators

Opposition leaders have met with international mediators from the United Nations, Ecowas and the African Union, which has named Togo's former prime minister Edem Kodjo as a special envoy to the landlocked west African nation.

The opposition is not necessarily against the military playing a role in the transition.

"We have to see what model is best for the situation and the context," said the opposition's main leader Zephirin Diabre.

The ousted ruling party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress, has also expressed its willingness to "work with the transitional authorities".

Ouagadougou is largely returning to normal life. Last week, hundreds of thousands of protesters had gone on a rampage against Compaore's bid to extend his 27-year rule, setting parliament and other public buildings ablaze.

Hospital sources say at least 10 people died and 200 were wounded in the violence, while the opposition have given a figure of 30 deaths.

Read more on:    ecowas  |  macky sall  |  goodluck jonathan  |  blaise compaore  |  nigeria  |  ghana  |  senegal  |  burkina faso  |  west africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.