Africa Burkina Faso Dictatorship

Burkina Faso appoint diplomat as Interim President

By Staff Reporter

Michel Kafando, a veteran diplomat and former foreign minister, was sworn in Tuesday as Burkina Faso’s interim president to oversee a one-year transition back to civilian rule in the west African country.

Kafando’s appointment ended weeks of uncertainty after violent protests late last month brought down the 27-year regime of president Blaise Compaore and the military seized power.

Kafando pledged to “respect and defend the constitution, the transition charter and laws and do everything to guarantee justice for all Burkinabes” as he took the oath in the capital Ouagadougou.

He emphasised his “humility” as a leader holding “power that belongs to the people” during the ceremony, broadcast live on television.

Ahead of the swearing-in, the army-installed leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida, was awarded the country’s top honour normally reserved for heads of state, the Order of the Grand Cross.

Kafando, who will officially take over power from Zida on Friday. He was chosen after tortuous negotiations between the military, political parties and civil society groups.

He is barred from standing in elections scheduled to next year under the transitional deal.

Kafando’s appointment early Monday came ahead of a deadline imposed by the African Union, which had warned the deeply poor country would face sanctions unless it chose an interim leader.

– ‘Awesome responsibility’ –

“It is an awesome responsibility that falls to me, I already foresee the pitfalls and the immensity of the task,”

the 72-year-old Kafando told reporters after his appointment.

Kafando, who was chosen by a panel of 23 officials, will be charged with appointing a prime minister — either a civilian or a military figure — who will head a 25-member transitional government.

A civilian will also head a 90-seat parliament, known as the National Transitional Council.

According to a draft of the blueprint, no members of the interim regime will be allowed to stand in the November 2015 election.

Mass unrest erupted in Burkina Faso in late October over Compaore’s bid to change the constitution, which would have allowed him to extend his rule of the former French colony.

Protesters set the parliament building ablaze and attacked other official premises in the capital and other cities in violence not seen since a wave of army mutinies in 2011.

Compaore was 36 when he seized power in a 1987 coup in which his former friend and one of Africa’s most loved leaders, Thomas Sankara, was ousted and assassinated.

He held on to power in the following decades, being re-elected president four times since 1991.

His foiled attempt to extend his rule was closely watched across Africa, where at least four heads of state are considering similar tactics to stay in power, from Burundi to Benin and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Compaore has taken refuge in neighbouring Ivory Coast, where he is living in a luxury villa owned by the state.

Known in colonial times as Upper Volta, Burkina Faso won independence from France in 1960 and changed its name in 1984.

-AFP Africa

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