The African Union has given the new military authorities in Burkina Faso two weeks to hand power back to civilians, or face sanctions.
This follows the abrupt resignation of the president last week, after days of street protests opposed to him trying to prolong his 27-year rule.
Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida, from the elite presidential guard, is the new interim military leader after a brief power struggle within the army.
This follows the surprise departure of President Blaise Compaore who — for almost the past 30 years — had led one of the poorest countries in the world.
The U.S. is hesitating whether to call the takeover a coup, which would require the administration to halt aid.
“We are certainly encouraging movement to a civilian-led transition and then of course elections,” says Jen Psaki, a U.S. State Department spokesman. “At this point, we’re still gathering facts, we’re not going to make a policy or legal determination at this point in time.”
From regional troublemaker, ousted President Compaore morphed into regional peace broker — with close ties to the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.
Compaore was a canny, political survivor in West Africa — he faced earlier army mutinies and civilian protests in 2011.
But Burkina Faso’s sit-tight president defied recent calls for him to stop efforts to extend his long rule, but this miscalculation was his undoing.
New military leader Zida, claims the army will restore democracy in Burkina Faso.
But civilian opposition leaders and demonstrators, who took to the streets in protest, fear that their popular uprising, or revolution as they’re calling it, has been hijacked by the military.