In a series of events that has led to the end of 27 year reign for Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, the military has cemented its hold on power.
Reuters reported that the military top brass named Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, deputy commander of the elite presidential guard, as head of state on Saturday.
One of Africa’s long-serving rulers, Compaore stepped down on Friday after two days of mass demonstrations against his attempts to change the constitution to extend his 27 years in power. At least three people were killed after protesters stormed the parliament building and set it on fire.
The Atlantic indicated that there seemed to have been a power struggle among the ranks of the army. When Compaore stepped down on Friday, the chief of the nation’s armed forces, General Honore Traore, declared himself to be head of state.
Zida, who has operational control over the army’s best trained and equipped unit, had declared himself interim president in an early morning radio address, overruling Traore’s claim to lead a transitional government following Compaore’s departure.
The last time Burkina Faso was in the news, it regarded reports on the crash of Air Algerie AH5017. The Inquisitr reported that 110 passengers died in a plan crash that left Burkina Faso for Algiers.
This time around, the African country is in the news because of political turmoil.
In a statement released on Saturday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called on the military to transfer power to civilian authorities.
“The United States condemns the Burkinabe military’s attempt to impose its will on the people of Burkina Faso. We call on the military to immediately transfer power to civilian authorities. We urge civilian leadership to be guided by the spirit of the constitution of Burkina Faso and to move immediately towards free and fair Presidential elections. We regret the loss of life this week in Burkina Faso and call on all parties to avoid further violence.”
On the dusty streets of Ouagadougou, the capital, protesters voiced anger that they had driven out Compaore — who seized power in a 1987 military coup — only to have another soldier imposed on them.
“The victory of the popular uprising and consequently the management of the transition belongs to the people and should not in any way be confiscated by the army,” a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups said in a statement after talks on Saturday.
The African Union has also called for the military to hand power over to civilian authorities.
[Photo Credit: Reuters/Joe Penney]