West African presidents open talks with Burkina’s military leader


A delegation of West African presidents opened talks with Burkina Faso’s new military leader on Wednesday to plot a path to a civilian-led transition in the wake of the resignation of longtime ruler Blaise Compaore last week.

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama, the current chairman of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, met briefly behind closed doors with Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, who was appointed as interim head of state by the army on Saturday.

Mahama then held separate consultations with U.N. special representative for West Africa Mohammed Ibn Chambas and ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, himself from Burkina Faso.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Senegalese leader Macky Sall also arrived in Burkina Faso on Wednesday at Mahama’s invitation as part of an ECOWAS leaders delegation.

The three presidents were due to hold joint talks with Burkina Faso’ main political actors later on Wednesday.

Zida has announced the suspension of Burkina Faso’s 1991 constitution in the wake of the mass demonstrations that forced Compaore to resign on Friday after 27 years in office. Demonstrators had taken to the streets on Thursday when Compaore tried to force through parliament a reform to allow him to seek reelection next year.

The military has also dissolved the National Assembly and imposed a curfew.

Amid mounting international pressure for a civilian to take the reins of the transition, Zida promised on Monday to quickly cede power to a transitional government and appoint a new head of state.