Burkina Faso’s interim President Michel Kafando officially resumed power Wednesday after a week-long coup by renegade troops, who bowed to pressure from regional powers and former colonial ruler France.
The move came after marathon talks brokered by the ECOWAS west African regional bloc, and fears for the transition from 27 years of iron-fisted rule by ousted president Blaise Compaore.
Kafando, who has led the landlocked west African country since last year’s anti-Compaore popular uprising, said his “main objective” now was to organise a vote.
But that election faces a delay after restored Prime Minister Isaac Zida indicated it would have to be put back “several weeks”, citing technical reasons.
The putsch by Compaore loyalist troops came ahead of an election planned for October 11, with at least 10 people killed and more than 100 injured in the resulting unrest.
Zida said the elite presidential guard RSP who staged the coup would now have to be reconstituted as it was “practically unimaginable” to retain the body in its current form.
Kafando told a ceremony attended by African heads of state in the capital Ouagadougou he was open to dialogue on all sides and that “go ..
Kafando told a ceremony attended by African heads of state in the capital Ouagadougou he was open to dialogue on all sides and that “going to the polls is still the main objective.”
“We remain determined to pursue the sacred mission that the people of Burkina Faso have given us: to put in place credible, trustworthy institutions for a new Burkina that we have decided to build, in true democracy and justice,” the restored leader said.
Kafando added that the widespread international condemnation of the coup “comforts us in our certainty that we are on the right road and that our cause is just.”
Those attending Wednesday’s ceremony included Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi, Ghana President John Dramani Mahama, Niger counterpart Mahamadou Issoufou and Nigerian vice-president Yemi Osinbajo.
In all, six ECOWAS heads of state travelled to Ouagadougou to oversee Kafando’s formal re-installation and to try to resolve two contentious issues: an amnesty plan for the putschists and whether upcoming elections should be open to supporters of previously deposed veteran dictator Blaise Compaore.
Kafando said regional leaders would “take into account the will of the Burkinabe people” in their new mediation bid.
On the streets, citizens were counting the cost of a week of tens ..
Kontogomda Kady, a fruit seller near the airport, said that “I’ve not made 1,500 francs (2.30 euros, $2.80) this morning. Normally, it’s 20,000 to 25,000.
“With the crisis you don’t earn anything,” said the mother of four.
Meat trader, Amadou Sawaro, moaned: “I’ve sold nothing.”
Under the terms of deal restoring Kafando, the RSP agreed to stand down from their positions in Ouagadougou, while the army also agreed to withdraw from the capital and guarantee the safety of the RSP members as well as their families.
The accord was presented to the Mogho Naba, “king” of Burkina Faso’s leading Mossi tribe, in front of the media early Wednesday.
Burkina Faso was plunged into crisis last Wednesday when the powerful RSP detained the interim leaders who had been running the country since a popular uprising deposed iron-fisted president Compaore last October after his failed bid to extend his 27-year rule.
The elite unit of 1,300 men officially declared a coup Thursday and installed rebel leader General Gilbert Diendere, Compaore’s former chief of staff, as the country’s new leader.
The breakthrough came as Diendere told AFP that interim president Kafando, who had been seized by presidential guards but later released, would be returned to office on Wednesday.
The coup leaders came under enormous regional and international pressure throughout the week, with former colonial ruler France warning sanctions if they did not hand back power.
On Tuesday, Burkina Faso’s military had warned coup leader Diendere it has the means to attack his elite forces but he hit back, saying his men would defend themselves if attacked.
A round of talks mediated by Senegalese President Macky Sall focused on returning power to the interim government while granting the putschists an amnesty in return.
They also pledged Compaore loyalists would be allowed to run for office in the upcoming vote after they complained of being barred.
Kafando told French radio he had “serious reservations” about the proposal and residents were furious at the suggestion of an amnesty for the coup ringleaders.