Burkina military retains powerful posts in new cabinet

Burkina Faso`s military retained powerful posts in a new cabinet unveiled Sunday, three weeks after the army took over in the wake of a popular revolt.

Ouagadougou: Burkina Faso`s military retained powerful posts in a new cabinet unveiled Sunday, three weeks after the army took over in the wake of a popular revolt.

The Army`s Issac Zida will remain prime minster and also take the defence minister post, officials said. The military will likewise have control of the interior ministry, announced Alain Sery Ouattara, government secretary general.

In all, four military members will be in the 26-member cabinet. Interim civilian President Michel Kafando will double up as foreign minister.

Kafando, a former diplomat, took office on Friday to steer the west African nation for a transitional period after veteran president Blaise Compaore was toppled in a wave of popular unrest last month. The military has pledged to help bring the country back to full civilian rule.

The shape of the new government was initially expected to be unveiled on Thursday, and then Saturday, but was repeatedly held up by differences between the rival parties.

One source said the delay was caused by the army`s opposition to several ministerial candidates proposed by civil society groups.

Despite the civilian shift with Kafando becoming president, the military`s control of the security services means the officers will remain a powerful political force.

Some civil society representatives have voiced concern over Zida`s appointment and some residents of Ouagadougou called it a betrayal of their "revolution".

Both Kafando and Zida are barred from standing in elections scheduled to be held in November next year under the transition deal.

But a diplomat said: "Make no mistake, it`s (Zida) who will lead the country."Zida, 49, was appointed premier by Kafando on Wednesday, a day after the former UN ambassador was sworn in as interim leader.

Chosen after negotiations between political parties, the army and civil society, Kafando has emphasised his "humility" as a figure entrusted with "power that belongs to the people".

Kafando has pledged he will not let his landlocked nation of 17 million people become a "banana republic".

He vowed to punish those responsible for excesses during the 27-year rule of Compaore, who was very close to slain Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi and Liberian warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, currently jailed for war crimes.

"We will settle accounts with all those who have abused justice and who think they can syphon off public funds," Kafando said.

"The message of the people is clear and we have heard it," he said. "No more injustice, no more chaos, no more corruption."

Compaore, meanwhile, flew into Morocco Friday on a visit from Ivory Coast, where he fled after an uprising against a constitutional change that could have enabled him to extend his hold on power.

Under intense international pressure, and the threat of sanctions if the military retained the post of head of state, an agreement was thrashed out to work towards elections in November 2015.

Burkina Faso notably exports cotton and gold, but almost half the population lives on less than a dollar a day and many are subsistence farmers.

Every change of regime in the country has been triggered by a coup since independence from France in 1960, when it was called Upper Volta.