Hundreds protest in Burkina Faso capital against army’s power grab

Protesters gathered against the army taking over after President Blaise Compaore’s resignation.

Burkina Faso’s Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Zida attends a press briefing at the end of a meeting with the country's military commanders at the military headquarters in Ouagadougou on 1 November, 2014.

OUAGADOUGOU - At least a thousand people gathered in a square in the centre of Burkina Faso's capital on Sunday to protest against the army taking over after President Blaise Compaore's resignation.

His 27 years in charge of the landlocked West African country ended on Friday following two days of violent protests against his bid to change the constitution to extend his rule.

A power struggle ensued and on Saturday Presidential Guard commander Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida was appointed as transitional leader, trumping a claim by the chief of staff.

In Ouagadougou's Place de La Nation, the site of this week's mass protests, opposition leaders denounced the army's power grab. One citizen carried a placard saying "Zida = Judas".

A UN official on Sunday joined the United States and the African Union in rejecting the army's seizure of power but expressed cautious optimism about a return to civilian rule.

"We are hoping for a transition led by civilians in line with the constitution," Mohammed Ibn Chambas, head of the United Nations Office for West Africa, said.

"He (Zida) said he will reflect and try to work with the UN, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States and to find an acceptable agreement which conforms to the constitution," he said.

Under Burkina Faso's constitution, the head of the National Assembly should take office if the president resigns. At least three people were killed in this week's protests during which the Parliament building was stormed and set on fire.