Burkina Faso’s Military Takes Power After President Resigns

October 31, 2014

Updated at 10:40 a.m. ET

Burkina Faso’s military appears to have taken control of the African nation shortly after long-time President Blaise Campaore, who has ruled since staging a coup in 1987, agreed to resign as part of what he said was a plan to hold elections in 90 days.

NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports that the country’s armed forces chief, Gen. Honore Traore, announced on Friday that he was taking charge, but it wasn’t clear if his role would be as interim leader or something more permanent.

The dramatic developments come a day after angry anti-government mobs set fire to the parliament building to protest a plan to extend his tenure. The anti-government activists were protesting a plan to change the constitution to allow Campaore to extend his tenure.

In a statement read on national television Friday, Compaore announced his resignation and plans for new elections, but didn’t say who would take power in the interim, according to The Associated Press.

As we reported on Thursday, thousands of protesters in the capital Ouagadougou broke through police lines and surged into the country’s parliament, setting it on fire ahead of a parliamentary vote that would have changed the constitution to allow Campaore to continue his rule over the West African country.

The AP writes:

“In response to the chaos, a brief period of martial law was imposed during which the military announced the dissolution of parliament and promised an interim government that would include all parties. Compaore later said he would lead that transitional government until elections next year and then relinquish power.

“But that concession may not be enough to satisfy the opposition in this West African country. Protesters were gathering again Friday morning in a central square in the capital, but few security forces could be seen.”

According to The New York Times:

“It was unclear early on Friday whether the president’s offer of negotiations would avert another day of protests representing the most serious challenge to his authority since he seized power in a military coup in 1987.

“Hundreds of protesters gathered in central Ouagadougou, the capital, on Friday, and the opposition promised to offer its response to the president’s move at a news conference.”

The BBC says: “The creation of a transitional government to serve until 2015 elections was announced by army chief Gen Honore Traore, who said it would “be put in place in consultation with all parties.'”

“He also declared the dissolution of parliament.

“UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, is expected in Burkina Faso to try to ease the crisis, the UN said.”

Burkina Faso’s opposition has renewed its call for Compaore to step down and a statement by opposition leader Zephirin Diabre urged protesters to occupy public spaces, the BBC says.

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