Popular protest forces Burkina Faso president to quit, Lt Colonel takes over

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Burkina Faso: Prez quits amid protests
Ouagadougou, Nov 1: Burkina Faso's Lieutenant Colonel Issaac Zida on Saturday took over as head of state in an apparent coup against the army chief, Honore Traore, who had earlier said he would lead a transition.

Earlier, Gen Nabere Honore Traore said he would lead the transition after Blaise Campaore quit as the president of the country amid mass protests against a bid to extend his 27-year-rule. Sixty-three-year-old Campaore, who was in power since a military coup in 1987, tried to defy popular pressure for him to step down after a violent protest broke out on Thursday which saw the protesters storming the parliament and state television.

Burkina Faso, a small landlocked country in West Africa, is a key ally in the west's operations against outfits having links with al-Qaeda in Western Africa and its domestic crisis was watched by the United States and France, the former colonial master which has an army base there.

Protests broke out on Thursday when Burkina Faso's parliament was due to vote on constitutional changes to allow Compaore to seek re-election in 2015. At least three persons lost their lives while dozens were injured in the violence. Compaore was finally forced to bow out after no international support materialised for him.

The departure of the long-serving president saw the crowd dancing and cheering on the streets of Ouagadougou. People termed the development as a "Sub-Saharan Spring" and warned those heads of state who tried to hang on to power.

The African Union expressed its concern over the situation in Burkina Faso and its Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma sent a high-level team to the violence-hit country to consult with all those who have stake in the issue.

According to a report from Accra, the capital of Ghana, Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) John Dramani Mahama requested the politicians in Burkina Faso to hold a dialogue to arrive at a consensus, IANS reported.

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama said the sub-regional body had followed with grave attention events unfolding in Burkina Faso and the tension around the process leading to the consideration of the draft bill on constitutional amendment, Xinhua reported.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Special Envoy for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, was expected to arrive in Burkina Faso on Friday to try to ease the crisis, the UN said, according to the IANS.

Oneindia News

[With IANS inputs]

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