The African Union (AU) says it is ready to work with leaders and stakeholders in Burkina Faso in order to expedite the transition process to quickly return to a constitutional rule.
Burkina Faso has closed its borders with neighboring countries after protesters forced long-time President Blaise Compaore to flee into exile after stepping down last Friday.
The AU has since sent a team of officials to help the country to maintain peace and stability as well as to ensure Burkina Faso maintains its territorial integrity, according to AU spokesman El-Ghassim Wane.
“We are closely following the situation, and we have made a call to all the political stakeholders and civil society in Burkina Faso, to work together in a spirit of consensus, and responsibility in order to agree on a civilian-led transition that will culminate in the holding of free fair and transparent elections,” said Wane.
“We believe that it is important that the defense and security forces place themselves at the disposal of civilian authorities, who should lead the transition, and that the defense and security forces should act in a republican spirit,” he said.
Some analysts have called for a specific time frame to put pressure on the leaders in Burkina Faso to ensure a quick return to constitutional rule.
Wane said the AU has not specified a time frame, but added that this organization is ready to work with stakeholders in an effort to help the country to return to democracy.
“The practice is to ensure a return to constitutional order as quickly as possible. We believe that a successful transition in Burkina Faso should be a transition that is led by civilians, and we are calling on the defense and security forces to facilitate such a process,” said Wane.
According to Wane, the AU is working with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to help Burkina Faso in the transition process after Compaore stepped down.
He said both the AU and ECOWAS form part of the African Peace and Security Architecture that aims to restore as well as maintain peace and stability in countries that face security challenges.
“The aim is to assist the Burkinabe stakeholders to address the current challenges facing them, especially the political crisis. [The] delegation is still in Ouagadougou, so we are looking forward to its report, so as to facilitate the next step in the continent's response in the unfolding situation in Burkina Faso,” said Wane.
Opposition groups have rejected Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, a presidential guard commander, as leader of a transitional government.
Ablasse Ouedraogo, a leading member of the opposition, said they will meet military officials to demand they hand over power to civilians.
“The people of Burkina Faso have [stood up] and have brought the departure of Blaise Compaore from power. The victory is the people's victory," said Ouedraogo. "After the experience with the army in our country and in African countries, our preference is for the civilians to lead the transition and to lead the transitional period.”
Ouedraogo, however, said the army has a critical role to play by ensuring peace and security.
He called on protesters to continue demonstrations to pressure the military to hand over power. Ouedraogo condemned what he described as coup d'état, following the military's claim that it is in charge of the transition.
He said opposition and civil society groups are working on naming a team to head the country's transition process. “We are working on that [and] you will get the news very soon,” said Ouedraogo.