Burkina Faso Names Interim PresidentNovember 17, 2014 in Burkina Faso
On Monday, Burkina Faso announced the West African country’s new interim leader who will lead the nation until the next presidential elections, which are due to occur November 2015. The appointment of an interim leader will end weeks of uncertainty in the West African nation after mass protests brought down the 27-year regime of president Blaise Compaore, which resulted in the military seizing power.
Veteran diplomat Michel Kafando has been chosen as Burkina Faso’s interim president. The decision was made after several hours of negotiation, which had started the previous day. Lieutenant Colonel Issac Zida, the army-installed leader, had given the country’s various parties a noon deadline Sunday in order to submit names to a panel of twenty-three mainly civilian electors. The panel later elected Mr Kafando after preferring him to other candidates, which included journalist Cherif Sy and sociologist and ex-minister Josephine Ouedraogo. While Mr Kafando has described the appointment as “more than an honour,” his selection as interim president will now have to be ratified by the country’s Constitutional Council. The election of a civilian interim president homes ahead of a deadline that was imposed by the African Union (AU) and which instructed Burkina Faso to establish interim institutions and to select an interim president by Monday or face sanctions.
On Saturday, the military reinstated the country’s constitution, which was suspended when the army filled the power vacuum that was created by the departure of Compaore. A “transition charter,” effectively an interim constitution agreed upon between the military and civilian, opposition and religious figures last week, was officially signed on Sunday by the military. The signing of the interim constitution by Lieutenant Col Zida effectively marks his acceptance of Burkina Faso’s return to civilian leadership. Under the agreement, the president will appoint a prime minister, either a civilian or military figure, who will head a 25-member transitional government. A civilian will also head a 90-seat parliament, which is known as the National Transitional Council. According to the document, no members of the interim regime will be allowed to stand in the November 2015 presidential elections.
Mr Kafando previously served as the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, between 1998 and 2011. Between 1981 and 1982, he was Burkina Faso’s Foreign Affairs minister. AU chief Nkosazan Dlamini-Zuma has welcomed Mr Kafando’s appointment and has praised the people of Burkina Faso “for their political maturity and sense of responsibility.” The AU chief also called for “a smooth transition under the direction of civil authorities.”
Presidential elections are set to occur in November next year, and will effectively return the country to civilian rule after long-time president Blaise Compaore was ousted in late October.