On Friday, Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaoré resigned from office after 27 years in power and a week of escalating protests (see our background report). In light of a constitutional vacuum, he handed power to General Honore Traoré, head of the Burkinabé Army, his former aide-de-camp, and called for elections within 90 days. Traoré made no comment on the latter point.
While protesters celebrated the fall of Compaoré, whose whereabouts are now unknown, General Traoré is still generally regarded as being too personally close to the former president.
Already things are looking very shaky for the transitional military government under Traoré:
The presidential guard’s second in command [and the Army Spokesman], Colonel Isaac Zida, says he has assumed power as head of state.
Col Zida said General Honore Traore’s claim to be head of state was now “obsolete”.
“I now assume… the responsibilities of head of the transition and of head of state to assure the continuation of the state” and a “smooth democratic transition”, said Col Zida in a televised speech quoted by AFP news agency.
Reuters reported that Col Zida, in a statement read out on local radio, had said: “I assume the functions of head of state and I call on (West African regional bloc) Ecowas and the international community to demonstrate their understanding and support the new authorities.”
From independence in 1960 to the end of the Cold War, there were at least five successful coup d’états and then none until now. Friday’s military takeover as a “transitional” government in the absence of a viable constitutional successor makes six, and if this one succeeds that will probably qualify as the seventh, despite being internal to the military and in such rapid succession.
Added: Reuters is counting this as number seven and reports:
“I assume from today the responsibilities of head of this transition and head of state,” Zida said, dressed in military fatigues, in the studio of BF1 television.
“I salute the memory of the martyrs of this uprising and bow to the sacrifices made by our people.”
Zida said the army had stepped in to avoid anarchy and ensure a swift democratic transition. He said a roadmap to elections would be drafted by a body drawn from different elements of society, including political parties and civil society.
“This is not a coup d’etat but a popular uprising,” he told Reuters after making the statement. “The people have hopes and expectations, and we believe we have understood them.”