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West African presidents press for civilian rule in Burkina Faso


Ouagadougou -Three West African Presidents on Wednesday pressed Burkina Faso’s new military leaders to hand over power to a civilian ruler within two weeks, the media reports said.

The deadline was set by the African Union, which said it would impose sanctions on Burkina Faso if it refused to comply.

Senegalese President Macky Sall arrived on Wednesday, followed by Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and Ghana’s John Mahama, who held the rotating presidency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The three met diplomats prior to meetings with Burkina Faso’s military leader, Isaac Zida, representatives of the opposition and civil society and traditional chiefs.

However, results of the meetings were not expected to be made public until the evening.

Zida, who seized power after mass demonstrations forced President Blaise Compaore to resign last week, has repeatedly promised to hand over power to civilians but had not set a timetable for the transfer.

After talks with Zida on Tuesday, Joseph Tiendrebeogo, a spokesman for the country’s trade unions, said he expected a handover within two weeks.

Zida has been holding meetings with the opposition, traditional leaders, diplomats and representatives of the UN, AU and ECOWAS.

The opposition has not excluded a role for the army during a transitional period until elections, expected within three months.

The three West African presidents came to Ouagadougou to press for a speedy handover and to prepare for an ECOWAS summit due to discuss the Burkina Faso crisis in Accra on Thursday.

It said that the decision by the AU to impose sanctions on Burkina Faso would be likely to prompt international donors to cut aid.

Meanwhile, Canada has already suspended development assistance to Burkina Faso.

The country of 17 million residents was engulfed last week by protests demanding an end to Compaore’s 27-year rule.

It added that the president fled to Ivory Coast on Friday.

A power struggle resulted within the army, which finally gave its backing to Zida, the second-in-command of the presidential guard. (dpa/NAN)

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