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Burkina Faso Opposition Rejects Army Takeover

  • VOA News

Opposition leader Jean Hubert Bazie (C) reads a statement, next to the head of Burkina Faso's opposition Zephirin Diabre (D), during a press conference on Nov. 1, 2014 in Ouagadougou.

Opposition leader Jean Hubert Bazie (C) reads a statement, next to the head of Burkina Faso's opposition Zephirin Diabre (D), during a press conference on Nov. 1, 2014 in Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso's opposition and civil society leaders are rejecting the army's takeover of power following the ouster of the country's longtime president.

In a statement Saturday, they called President Blaise Compaore's resignation amid a popular uprising a "victory" that "belongs to the people. They also said the transition should be "democratic and civilian" and that its management should not be "confiscated" by the army. They said the transition should be "democratic and civilian".

The statement came just hours after military officer Yacouba Isaac Zida, who was second in command of the presidential guard, announced that he is assuming the responsibilities of leading the country.

US condemnation

The United States is condemning what it calls the military's attempt to impose its will on the people of Burkina Faso. The State Department called on the military to immediately transfer power to civilian authorities. It also said civilian authorities must be guided by the constitution and immediately plan a free and fair presidential election.

Backing Zida, the military released a statement which included the signature of army chief General Honore Traore, who had also claimed leadership of the transition.

Meanwhile, Compaore was said to be in neighboring Ivory Coast.

Announcing his status as leader Saturday, Zida called for the support of the international community.

"While waiting to define in a consensual manner, with all the political parties and civil society organizations, the content and the contours of this peaceful democratic transition, I assume from today the responsibilities of head of this transition and head of state to guarantee the continuity of the state," he told the nation in French. " I call on the international community, in particularly countries that are friends and allies of Burkina Faso, notably in the African Union and ECOWAS, to demonstrate their understanding and support our people in this difficult time.''

Travel warning

Prior to Zida's confirmation, the U.S. State Department issued a warning against travel to Burkina Faso and said the status of a transitional government remained unclear. The warning cited "incidents of looting" throughout the capital of Ouagadougou and other parts of the country.

Compaore resigned after protesters stormed parliament and set the building ablaze. He had ruled the country after seizing power in a 1987 coup.

Unrest broke out Thursday as lawmakers prepared to vote on a constitutional amendment that would have allowed President Compaore to run for another term. The government withdrew the amendment after protests became violent.

In leaving his post Friday, Compaore called for a 90-day transition period leading to elections.

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