Burkina Faso: Hollande urges quick, civilian-run vote

French President Francois Hollande speaks during a ceremony for the Order of Quebec at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, Nov 3, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
French President Francois Hollande speaks during a ceremony for the Order of Quebec at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, Nov 3, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

QUEBEC CITY (AFP) – France’s President Francois Hollande on Monday urged the Burkina Faso military to quickly hand power to a civilian authority capable of organising elections in the troubled West African country.

Mr Hollande was speaking shortly after the officers who have seized power in the former French colony pledged to name a “consensus” leader tasked with overseeing a return to elected government. 

On the sidelines of a visit to Quebec in Canada, Mr Hollande told reporters it was for a civilian authority to organise elections, and said that he hoped this would be confirmed “in the coming hours”. He also announced that France had helped facilitate the departure “without drama” of the ousted leader Blaise Compaore, who fled the country after mass protests ended his 27-year rule, but denied France actively participated in his escape.

Mr Compaore is now in Burkina Faso’s southern neighbour Ivory Coast, and previously it had not been clear how he had arrived there.

Earlier, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s de facto leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida, had said: “We’re not here to steal power.

“The executive branch will be led by a transitional body within a constitutional framework... This transitional body will be headed by a person appointed by the consensus of all actors in public life.”

Mr Compaore was forced to resign the presidency last week after thousands took to the streets to protest against moves to change the Constitution to allow him to stand for re-election once again.

After several days of chaos, the military has taken charge, but it is under pressure from the international community and the domestic opposition to allow a civilian transitional body to arrange a vote.