Thursday, 6 November 2014

African Mediators Fail to Name Civilian to Lead Burkina Faso After Unrest......

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OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — Despite often rancorous discussion brokered by three African presidents, political and military leaders inBurkina Faso have failed to name a civilian to lead a transition to democracy after the resignation of President Blaise Compaoré.
According to a statement late Wednesday from the leaders of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, the country’s fractious contenders have agreed to the outlines of a plan — intended in part to avert African Union and American sanctions — to restore the Constitution and begin a path to elections by November next year.
The negotiations in Ouagadougou, the capital of this poor, landlocked West African nation, followed a convulsion of violent protest last week that led to Mr. Compaoré's exit. Thousands of protesters surged through the city, setting fire to buildings including the Parliament and marching on the presidential palace.
Mr. Compaoré fled
to neighboring Ivory Coast with the assistance of France, the former colonial power, which still exerts enormous influence in the region and maintains a special forces base in Burkina Faso as part of an international effort to combat Islamic militants.
In the chaos surrounding Mr. Compaoré's departure, the military suspended the Constitution and named a presidential guard officer, Lt. Col. Isaac Zida, as the country’s interim leader.
The three African presidents — John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Macky Sall of Senegal — consulted with a wide range of players, including traditional leaders, religious figures, opposition groups and the military, according to their statement on Wednesday.
They planned to continue the discussions at a West African summit meeting in Accra, Ghana, on Thursday and Friday. The Ebola crisis in the region is a central topic of that meeting.
Their deliberations in Ouagadougou teetered on the brink of collapse after opposition politicians noisily refused to sit in the same room as Compaoré loyalists.
But finally, according to the presidents’ statement, the factions agreed to “immediately” restore the Constitution to establish an interim government and to “urgently designate by consensus a suitably eminent civilian to lead the transition.” In theory, some opposition figures argue, the Constitution provides for the speaker of Parliament to take over.
The factions also agreed “to form a transitional government for a period of one year” and “organize presidential and legislative elections by November 2015,” the presidents’ statement said.
It was not clear when the agreement would come into force, but the quarrelsome groups are under pressure to avoid potentially ruinous penalties associated with military takeovers.
Within days of Mr. Compaoré's exit, the African Union, the continent’s main representative body, set a two-week deadline for the military to hand over power to a civilian or face economic sanctions. Burkina Faso ranks as one of the world’s poorest nations.
For its part, the United States has said it has not decided whether the military takeover constitutes a coup d'état, which would lead to a suspension of military aid to a country that has depicted itself in recent years as an important ally in the fight against Islamic extremism.
Zéphirin Diabré, the best-known opposition leader, told reporters on Wednesday that Mr. Compaoré was overthrown by “a popular insurrection that cannot be treated as a vulgar coup d'état,” Reuters reported.