OUAGADOUGOU - A minister in Burkina Faso's transitional government seen as close to former President Blaise Compaore's administration resigned on Tuesday following two days of protests over his appointment, the prime minister's office said.
The resignation is an early test for the West African country's new leaders President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida who will lead until elections planned in 2015.
Compaore resigned and fled the country in late October following protests over his bid to amend the constitution to extend his 27 years in power. A brief period of army rule under Zida ensued before he ceded to African Union pressure to hand power back to a civilian ruler.
Culture and Tourism Minister Adama Sagnon, appointed to the 26-member interim government at the weekend, submitted his resignation on Tuesday and it was accepted.
Earlier in the day, hundreds marched in front of his ministry and accused him of not doing enough to investigate the mysterious murder of prominent investigative journalist Norbert Zongo in 1998.
Sagnon, who denies any wrongdoing in the Zongo case, was a prosecutor at the time when the case was dismissed in 2006.
“We wanted to show our refusal to endorse the appointment of Judge Adama Sagnon who is implicated in the Norbert Zongo case,” said Rasmane Ouedraogo, a Burkinabe musician who participated in the latest protests.
With the exception of Sagnon's appointment, Burkina Faso's political class has expressed satisfaction with the composition of the interim government, drawn from the military, civil society and political parties.
“We don't pretend that we can put in place a perfect government but we think that the we can install a team that responds well to the objectives of the transitional charter,” Zida said on Monday.
Burkina Faso, a cotton producer seeking to develop its mining sector, has acted as a key Western ally against Islamist militants in the arid Sahel belt south of the Sahara. France has a special forces unit based in Burkina Faso as part of a regional counter-terrorism operation.