Burkina govt set to be named after delay

2014-11-23 14:06
Michel Kafando. (AFP)

Michel Kafando. (AFP)

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Ouagadougou - The delayed announcement of Burkina Faso's interim government ministers is expected on Sunday, with the country waiting to see the extent of military influence under civilian President Michel Kafando.

Kafando, the interim president, issued a statement on Saturday that planned first meetings of the cabinet and the National Transitional Council, or parliament, were "delayed and will take place at a date to be announced".

A source familiar with the military's position in the negotiations said the delay was caused by the military's opposition to several ministerial candidates proposed by civil society groups.

Isaac Zida, the lieutenant colonel who has run Burkina Faso since the ouster of veteran leader Blaise Compaore three weeks ago and who has been named prime minister in the interim government, had promised on Wednesday that the makeup of the new government would be announced within 72 hours.

Earlier Saturday, an officer close to Zida said the list of proposed ministers would be delivered to Kafando Saturday and "if he agrees, we will publish the government this evening".

The delay in announcing the new government line-up was due to "organisation reasons" an officer close to Zida told AFP later, adding that the announcement of the interim cabinet should happen on Sunday.

Internal security

Zida formally handed power to Kafando, a 72-year-old former foreign minister and career diplomat, in a ceremony attended by six African heads of state on Friday.

However, despite that civilian shift, expectations were that the military would retain a heavy say in affairs when the government is finally announced.

An earlier draft cabinet list prepared by the military and seen by AFP showed the army wants all the most important positions in the 25-member government, including defence, internal security, and mining.

Civilians chosen by the military will also get the foreign, finance, justice, and budget posts, according to the document.

If this scenario is played out, that would leave Kafando free to name only relatively minor ministers, such as industry, communication, and scientific research.

Some civil society representatives have voiced concern over Zida's appointment, while some residents of Ouagadougou called it a betrayal of their "revolution".

Both Kafando and Zida are barred from standing in elections scheduled to be held in November next year under the transition deal.

But a diplomat, asking not to be named, said: "Make no mistake, it's [Zida] who will lead the country."

Promise of people power

Zida, 49, was appointed premier by Kafando on Wednesday, a day after the former UN ambassador was sworn in as interim leader.

Chosen after negotiations between political parties, the army and civil society, Kafando has emphasised his "humility" as a figure entrusted with "power that belongs to the people".

He vowed to punish those responsible for excesses during the 27-year-long rule of Compaore, who was very close to slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and Liberian warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, currently jailed for war crimes.

"We will settle accounts with all those who have abused justice and who think they can siphon off public funds," Kafando said.

"The message of the people is clear and we have heard it," he said. "No more injustice, no more chaos, no more corruption."

Compaore, meanwhile, flew into Morocco Friday on a visit from Ivory Coast where he fled 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.

A history of coups

Zida, formerly deputy commander of the presidential guard, 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.

Kafando has pledged he will not let his landlocked nation of 17 million people become a "banana republic".

Burkina Faso notably exports cotton and gold, but almost half the population lives on less than a dollar a day and many are subsistence farmers.

Every change of regime in the country has been triggered by a coup since independence from France in 1960.

Read more on:    michel kafando  |  blaise compaore  |  burkina faso  |  west africa

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