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Burkina Faso Opposition Parties & African Union Reject Army Takeover

Burkina Faso’s opposition parties, the United States and the African Union rejected the army’s seizure of power in the West African country on Saturday after the resignation of President Blaise Compaore, setting the stage for fresh street protests.

Reuters News Agency reports that the military top brass named Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, deputy commander of the elite presidential guard, as head of state on Saturday. A power struggle within the armed forces was resolved by sidelining the chief of staff.

Zida, who has operational control over the army’s best trained and equipped unit, had declared himself interim president in an early morning radio address, overruling military chief General Honore Traore’s claim to lead a transitional government following Compaore’s departure.

One of Africa’s long-serving rulers, Compaore stepped down on Friday after two days of mass demonstrations against his attempts to change the constitution to extend his 27 years in power. At least three people were killed after protesters stormed the parliament building and set it on fire.

On the dusty streets of Ouagadougou, the capital, protesters voiced anger that they had driven out Compaore – who seized power in a 1987 military coup – only to have another soldier imposed on them.

“This transition should be democratic and civilian in character,” said a statement from a coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups, which called a demonstration in the vast Place de la Nation for Sunday morning.

“The success of the uprising – and therefore the leadership of the transition – belongs to the people and should not be confiscated by the army,” it said.

The unfolding crisis in the poor, landlocked nation is being closely watched by the United States and former colonial power France, which were close military allies of Compaore. Under his rule, Burkina Faso became a key ally in operations against al Qaeda-linked groups in West Africa.

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