Ouagadougou: Burkina Faso`s army wants to hand over power within two weeks, labour unions said Tuesday, as international pressure mounted on the country`s military rulers for a speedy transition after the fall of president Blaise Compaore.
As Canada suspended its aid to the impoverished West African country and other nations considered similar moves, France acknowledged it helped facilitate the evacuation of Compaore, who had ruled the former French colony for 27 years.
Ghana President John Dramani Mahama, chair of West African bloc ECOWAS, is due in the country on Wednesday along with the leaders of Nigeria and Senegal for talks on the situation.
Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, named by the military as the country`s interim leader, said on Tuesday a handover of power to civilians could be done within two weeks.
"If everyone agrees, there is no reason that the transition (from military rule) shouldn`t be done within two weeks," Zida said, according to union leader Joseph Tiendrebeogo.
Earlier Tuesday, Mogho Naba, the "king" of Burkina Faso`s leading Mossi tribe, told AFP that Zida pledged to transfer power in a meeting with local leaders and foreign envoys.
Zida`s appointment by the military as interim leader came after a popular uprising that some had likened to the Arab Spring ended Compaore`s rule.
But the army`s actions have sparked angry protests at home and prompted threats of sanctions from the international community, with the African Union on Monday giving the military regime two weeks to return power to civilians.
On Tuesday, the Mossi tribe`s chief received Zida sitting on his throne flanked by Catholic Archbishop Philippe Ouedraogo and the head of the Muslim community, Imam Sana.
"They came to tell us that they would hand back power to civilians," Mogho Naba said outside his palace after the meeting. "The country should regain peace and quiet."
The army has made similar pledges over the past couple of days, without taking concrete action so far.
After the talks, Zida climbed into a black SUV without speaking to reporters.
Under the constitution, the parliament speaker is designated as the transitional leader, but the whereabouts of the speaker, Soungalo Ouattara, a close ally of Compaore, was unknown.French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday his country played a role in Compaore`s evacuation.
"We made sure Compaore was evacuated to Ivory Coast by making available all useful resources," Hollande told a press conference at the end of a three-day visit to Canada.
Compaore`s exit was necessary to avoid worsening the situation and provoking a possible "bloodbath," he said.
Compaore and his wife are currently staying in a luxury government mansion in Yamoussoukro, the capital of neighbouring Ivory Coast.
The military had promised on Monday to hand power to a "consensus" leader, as France called for a rapid handover.
Canada, which provided some $35.6 million in aid between 2012 and 2013 to the country, raised the pressure by suspending development assistance to Burkina Faso on Tuesday.
Funding would be restored when Ottawa is satisfied that a "legitimate and accountable civil authority has been re-established".
Washington said it was still "gathering facts" on the situation but could yet withdraw its $14 million (11 million euro) annual aid package.
Funding from donors is "instrumental" in financing Burkina Faso`s domestic budget as well as external trade, ratings agency S&P said.
The military has claimed that "power does not interest us" and pledged to install a unity government with a "broad consensus".
Opposition leaders were meanwhile meeting with mediators from the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union, which has named Togo`s former prime minister Edem Kodjo as a special envoy to the landlocked west African nation.
Opposition leader Zephirin Diabre made a cautious statement, saying: "We have to see what model is best for the situation and the context."
The opposition has not come out against a role for the military in the transitional executive.
The ousted ruling party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress, has expressed its willingness to "work with the transitional authorities".
The streets of the capital Ouagadougou bustled normally on Tuesday. Only five days earlier, hundreds of thousands of protesters had gone on a rampage in the city against Compaore`s bid to cling to power, setting parliament and other public buildings ablaze.