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Burkina's army vows to give power back to civilians

04 November 2014, 16:14

Ouagadougou - Burkina Faso's army-appointed leader on Tuesday promised he would "give power back" to a civilian government, a traditional chief said, but provided no timetable for the transfer despite intense international pressure.

Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida made the vow in a meeting with the country's Mogho Naba, the "king" of Burkina Faso's Mossi people, the latter told AFP.

The meeting was one Zida and other military officers were holding with local leaders and envoys from abroad following the army's power grab on Saturday after a popular uprising toppled president Blaise Compaore.

Zida's pledge "to give power back to the civilians" reiterated similar reassuring words from the army over the past couple of days. But thus far no concrete move has been seen to make it reality.

Wave of violent protests

The army took over after a wave of violent protests against attempts to extend Compaore's 27-year rule provoked his resignation last Friday.

The military had promised on Monday to hand power to a "consensus" leader, as African nations gave the regime two weeks to return to civilian rule and former colonial power France called for a rapid handover to civilians.

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

Opposition leaders were meanwhile meeting with mediators from the United Nations, the regional west African body 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.

Former colonial power France said late on 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.

Luxury government mansion

Washington said it was still "gathering facts" on the situation but could yet withdraw its $14m annual aid package to Burkina Faso.

Ouagadougou streets back to normal

The streets of the capital Ouagadougou bustled normally on Tuesday. Only five days earlier, hundreds of thousands of protesters had gone on a rampage in the capital against Compaore's bid to cling to power, setting parliament and other public buildings ablaze.

Hollande announced on Monday that France had helped facilitate Compaore's departure "without drama", but denied it had actively participated in his escape.

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

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has put Burkina Faso on watch for a downgrade from its speculative B rating, which is just two steps above the range for indicating a country is vulerable to a default.

S&P warned on Monday that the turmoil afflicting the country "could affect the relationship between Burkina Faso and key donors", noting that cheap loans provided by donors have been "instrumental" in financing the domestic budget as well as external trade.



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