African Union chief in Burkina Faso for transition talks
The chief of the African Union on Monday arrived in Burkina Faso for urgent talks on the west African country`s political transition following the ouster of veteran president Blaise Compaore.
Ouagadougou: The chief of the African Union on Monday arrived in Burkina Faso for urgent talks on the west African country`s political transition following the ouster of veteran president Blaise Compaore.
"We have come to participate in a solution," Mauritania`s president and current AU head Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said after talks with Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida, the officer the army installed to lead the nation after Compaore fled.
Abdel Aziz`s visit came a day after the opposition and civil society groups agreed on a blueprint for transition that provides for new elections in a year. The deal now has to be negotiated with the military, which is under international pressure to stand down.
After embracing Zida and heading straight into the airport talks, the AU head was later due to meet opposition politicians, leaders of civil society and loyalists who had backed Compaore in office, the military said.
"The African Union has not come to sanction Burkina Faso," Abdel Aziz stated on emerging from private talks with Zida in a lounge at Ouagadougou airport, adding that a settlement will come from the Burkinabe people".
Compaore first seized power in a 1987 coup that killed his predecessor and former comrade-in-arms Thomas Sankara, a widely popular Marxist and reformer under whom the name of the former Upper Volta was changed to Burkina Faso, meaning "Land of Upright People".
Compaore fled the country after unrest erupted amid demonstrations against attempts to change the constitution to extend his 27-year rule.
Zida, the second in command of the presidential guard, was then installed in power by the military.
The opposition and civil society groups will now have to negotiate their transition blueprint with the army to lay the groundwork for the nomination of a transitional president and the return of civilian rule.
The current blueprint provides for elections in November 2015, with an interim civilian president, a 25-member government and a transitional parliament with 90 seats.
A major question is who will become the transitional president in the poor, landlocked nation of some 17 million people.
"We`re going to discuss it together," said Luc Marius Ibriga, an official with the commission that put together the proposal. "The military provided us with a document. We deliberated while taking into account the details of the document."
On November 3, the AU pressed the Burkinabe army to return power to civilians within two weeks, but Zida, who has said he has not interest in staying in power, retorted that such a schedule "is really no concern for us. The AU can say `In three days`, but that commits only the African Union."