Burkino Faso power transition deal to be signed on Saturday

Burkina Faso`s army, political parties and civil groups will sign an agreement on Saturday for the west African nation`s return to civilian rule after the ouster of its long-serving president. 

"We feel we have really accomplished something and we are naturally very happy," said Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida, who the army put in power after Blaise Compaore was forced out of office on October 31 by mass protests. 

The transition charter, akin to an interim constitution, lays out a one-year transition to civilian rule that includes appointing a temporary president and calls for elections by November 2015. 

Delicate negotiations had already begun on Friday in Burkina Faso`s capital city Ouagadougou over who the country`s next leaders will be, including the president, the head of the interim parliament and the prime minister.

Under the deal, an interim civilian president will be chosen by a special electoral college. 

The president will in turn appoint a prime minister, either a civilian or a military figure, who will head a 25-member transitional government.

A civilian will also head a 90-seat parliament, known as the National Transitional Council.

Opposition parties, civil groups, religious leaders and the military hammered out the transition pact during intense talks and unanimously voted in favour of the roadmap on Thursday.

The head of the negotiating committee, Thomas Ye, said he was very proud of the rapid drafting of the crucial document.

"It`s really wonderful ..that it happened so quickly. We expected it to take much longer," said Ye, who handed the charter over to Zida on Friday. 

Burkina Faso`s military has faced mounting international pressure to transfer power to an interim government.

Compaore quit under pressure amid protests sparked by his bid to extend his 27-year rule by changing the constitution of the landlocked former French colony of some 17 million people.

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