Veteran diplomat Michel Kafando chosen as Burkina Faso's interim president

OUAGADOUGOU (AFP) - Veteran diplomat Michel Kafando has been chosen as Burkina Faso's interim president and he will head the country until 2015, officials in the west African country announced on Monday.

Kafando was selected after several hours of negotiation, which began the previous day.

"The consensus candidate is Michel Kafando," said Ignace Sandwidi, a representative of the Catholic Church, which was involved in the discussions to find a new leader.

Kafando, 72, served as the country's ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2011. Previously he was Burkina Faso's foreign affairs minister between 1981 and 1982.

Kafando was preferred to the other candidates, which included journalist Cherif Sy and sociologist and ex-minister Josephine Ouedraogo. He was selected by a committee of 23 officials.

Kafando's appointment will now have to be ratified by the Constitutional Council.

It comes ahead of a deadline imposed by the African Union, which instructed Burkina Faso to establish interim institutions and pick an interim president by Monday or face sanctions.

Elections are scheduled to be held in November next year, returning the country to civilian rule after long-time ruler Blaise Compaore was ousted in October.