Burkina parties in talks to agree transition leader

Burkina Faso`s political parties and civil society groups met for a second day Thursday to agree on a civilian leader to lead a transition government after the ousting of president Blaise Compaore.

Ouagadougou: Burkina Faso`s political parties and civil society groups met for a second day Thursday to agree on a civilian leader to lead a transition government after the ousting of president Blaise Compaore.

Stormy talks between the military, politicians and democracy groups in Ouagadougou on Wednesday ended with an agreement for elections in November 2015.

But the negotiations, brokered by three west African presidents and also attended by religious and tribal chiefs, failed to arrive on a consensus candidate.

Despite an angry walk out, and with emotions running so high security guards had to intervene at one stage, the parties agreed that an "eminent civilian personality" should take the job.

Ghana`s President John Dramani Mahama, who mediated alongside his Nigerian counterpart Goodluck Jonathan and Senegal`s President Macky Sall, voiced optimism.

"I believe that... in days rather than weeks, we`ll be able to achieve an agreement and install a transitional government," he said.

A two-day emergency summit of the west African regional bloc ECOWAS meanwhile began in the Ghanaian capital Accra to discuss the crisis.

On Thursday, many in Ouagadougou sounded hopeful that an end to the crisis was near.

"The dynamics have started and it`s going in the right direction," said Harouna Kabore, a 37-year-old company boss.

"It`s encouraging because we are advancing," said Ousmane Ouedraogo, a consultant.

The military are taking no part in Thursday`s talks, with the choice of a new provisional leader left to the country`s political parties and leading civil society figures.

The trio of presidents had travelled to Ouagadougou to press for the swift return of civilian rule after the military appointed one of its own, Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida, to run the country.

In scenes compared to the Arab Spring, Compaore was forced to flee the country Friday after tens of thousands took to the streets and set parliament ablaze in violent protests at his bid to extend his 27-year rule.The talks did not start well on Wednesday, with opposition leaders storming out in protest over the possible involvement of Compaore loyalists in any provisional government.

"We haven`t even buried our dead yet and they are putting arrogant people back in office who held the people in contempt," said Luc Marius Ibriga, spokesman for the civil society groups.

"We do not want to talk with the old governing party. They represent Blaise Compaore," said Rose-Marie Compaore, parliamentary leader of the main opposition group, the Union for Progress and Change.

Both groups were persuaded to return to the negotiations, only for members of the ruling party to then refuse to sit with them.

The opposition`s main leader Zephirin Diabre objected to a proposal by the west African leaders that each group submit three candidates for a transition government.There has been mounting international pressure on Zida and the military to return the country to civilian rule, with the African Union threatening sanctions and Canada withdrawing aid.

Zida told unions on Tuesday he would restore civilian rule within two weeks -- meeting a deadline set by African leaders.

"If everyone agrees, there is no reason that the transition shouldn`t be done within two weeks," Zida said, according to union leader Joseph Tiendrebeogo.

French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday that Paris helped evacuate Compaore to prevent a potential "bloodbath".

Compaore and his wife are staying in a government mansion in Yamoussoukro, the capital of neighbouring Ivory Coast.

The UN Security Council called for "a peaceful, civilian-led and democratic transition process leading to the holding of free, fair, inclusive and credible elections as soon as possible."

International donors, whose funding is crucial to the impoverished country, were watching the situation closely.

Canada said its aid of around $35 million (28 million euros) would be restored when a "legitimate and accountable civil authority has been re-established".

Washington said it was still "gathering facts" but could yet withdraw its $14 million annual aid package.