Burkina Faso declares Michel Kafando interim president

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Michel KafandoImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Michel Kafando was previously Burkina Faso's ambassador to the United Nations

Political and military leaders in Burkina Faso have chosen a former foreign minister, Michel Kafando, to be the country's interim president.

The move follows the signing of a charter on Sunday mapping out a year-long transition to elections.

Mr Kafando was one of four possible candidates for the post, including two journalists and an academic.

The army took power after President Blaise Compaore was forced to resign on 31 October during mass protests.

Lt Col Isaac Zida, who declared himself head of the West African state, has pledged to hand over power to a civilian authority.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
People cheered as the transition charter was signed on Sunday

The transitional charter will see an interim legislative chamber and a transitional leader installed until elections are organised next year.

Mr Kafando, 72, was chosen by a special panel composed of religious, military, political, civil and traditional leaders.

Negotiations in the capital Ouagadougou continued into the early hours of Monday morning.

Analysis: Lamine Konkobo, BBC Afrique

Reaction to Mr Kafando's appointment has been lukewarm among the youth who were instrumental in ousting Mr Compaore.

The retired diplomat had been Mr Compaore's voice at the UN for 13 years, and had been quiet throughout the rowdy debate over the constitutional amendment, which sought to extend Mr Compaore's 27-year rule. More significantly, he was the army's candidate.

All this leaves many with the feeling that they have been sold short with Mr Kafando's appointment. Many youths would have preferred Josephine Ouedraogo. She served in the government of Thomas Sankara, the post-independence leader whose mysterious killing opened the way for Mr Compaore to seize power in 1987.

She refused to have anything to do with Mr Compaore's regime and picking a "Sankarist" would have signalled a return to the revolutionary values promoted in Burkina Faso before Mr Compaore's ascent to power.

But people are unlikely to rally against Mr Kafando's appointment, as the Transition Charter imposes tight controls on his powers

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Burkina Faso's army-appointed leader, Lt Col Isaac Zida, has pledged to hand power to a civilian authority

Mr Kafando's first task will be to name a prime minister who will appoint a 25-member government.

Mr Kafando, a former foreign minister and previously Burkina Faso's ambassador to the United Nations, will be barred from standing at the next election.

International bodies have threatened sanctions unless civilian rule is restored in Burkina Faso.

Col Zida's attempts to suspend the constitution and crack down on dissent sparked fresh unrest late last month.

In a communique on Saturday, Col Zida said the constitution was back in force in order to "allow the start of the establishment of a civilian transition".

Mr Compaore first seized power in a coup in 1987 and went on to win four disputed elections.

Tens of thousands of people protested in Ouagadougou in October against moves to allow him to extend his rule.

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