By Our Special Correspondent
Attempts by the army in Burkina Faso to hold onto power after the sudden departure last month of long-time president Blaise Compaore have failed after the self-appointed new military leader Lt Col Isaac Zida gave in to pressure and allowed the appointment of a transitional civilian leader.
In a move that will no doubt please many African living under tyrannical leaders who have held onto power for more than 20 years, Col Zida quickly moved away from threats he made last week that he would crack down on dissenters who took to the streets to oppose an army takeover after the collapse of the Compaore regime. In a meeting with fellow army officers, traditional and religious groups, civil society and the political opposition, Col Zida agreed to allow the name of the country’s former Foreign Minister Michel Kafando to be put forward as the interim leader until elections are held late next year.
Dr Kafando, 75, who also served his country as ambassador to the United Nations accepted the offer saying: “The committee has just designated me to guide temporarily the destiny of our country. This is more than an honour. It’s a true mission which I will take with the utmost seriousness.” He was one of four possible candidates for the post, including two journalists and an academic. The move was a key step towards restoring democracy after the brief military takeover last month.
A career diplomat, Kafando holds a doctorate from the Sorbonne in political science. His first job will be to appoint a 25-man committee to steer the country towards the next general elections. However his presidency will be short lived as he has agreed to the committee’s suggestion that the interim leader would not be taking part in the next election. In doing so, the Burkina Faso committee might have taken a page out of a suggestion last year by Ugandan political opposition who met in The Hague and suggested the stepping down of President Museveni from 27 years of power and be replaced by an interim leader who would step down and now participate in an election afterwards.