Burkina Faso: Parties reach pact on transitional govt

The crisis talks in Ouagadougou ended without a deal on who will head the transitional government.

Transitional leader of Burkina Faso Lieutenat-Colonel Isaac Zida during a meeting with members of the diplomatic corps in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 03 November 2014. Picture: EPA.

OUAGADOUGOU - Burkina Faso's political parties have agreed that the country's political transition should last a year, followed by elections in November 2015.

But the crisis talks in Ouagadougou ended without a deal on who will head a transitional government.

The military has been in charge since President Blaise Compaore was forced to quit last week amid mass protests.

Three African leaders were in Ougadougou on Wednesday underlining the African Union decision to give the military two weeks to hand power to a civilian ruler or face sanctions.

Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama led the delegation from the West African bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) to help Burkina Faso plot a path to a civilian-led transition after the military named a senior army officer as head of state on Saturday.

Mahama, the current ECOWAS chairman, oversaw sometimes tumultuous talks with Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, opposition politicians, Compaore's supporters, religious leaders and civil society groups.

There was a general consensus in favour of a civilian-led interim government, he said.

"I have confidence and I believe that in days, rather than weeks, the people will come out with an interim leader," Mahama said while warning that delays in appointing a civilian administration could see the country punished with sanctions.

The African Union announced on Monday that although popular pressure led to the ousting of Compaore, the change had been undemocratic and stated that the body would apply sanctions if civilian rule was not re-established within two weeks.

The United States said earlier this week that it had not yet decided if the military takeover constituted a coup, a distinction that would lead to an automatic suspension of military aid to one of the West's key allies in the region.

The ECOWAS troika, which also included Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan and Macky Sall of Senegal, had earlier said it expected the transition period to last up to one year, maintaining a November 2015 date for presidential elections.

They recommended that members of the interim authority should not be permitted to stand in elections next year.

A statement read at the end of the mission said that all of the consulted parties had agreed to reinstate the 1991 constitution, which Zida suspended upon assuming power.

But opposition, civil society and religious delegates rejected a request to name three candidates for the interim presidency, saying they needed more time.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the meetings, President Sall said the troika had expected to have a decision on a transitional leader on Wednesday.

"But we realised there was no use in rushing and running the risk of compromising what we are seeking, which is why we are leaving a team of negotiators to continue the discussions," he said.

The troika will now travel to Accra, Ghana, for a special ECOWAS summit on Thursday that is expected to discuss the situation in Burkina Faso and the West African Ebola epidemic.

Additional reporting by Reuters

(Edited Leeto M Khoza)