OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — The military colonel who briefly seized control of Burkina Faso after the longtime president stepped down was chosen Wednesday to serve as prime minister, casting doubt that the army will stay out of politics as demanded by the international community.
Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida said his appointment by the new president of the transitional government showed "a mark of confidence" in the country's security and defense forces, and pledged his commitment to organizing a poll in 2015.
The main objective of the government is to "hold free, fair and transparent, and equitable elections as well as to undertake important reforms for the future of the country," the 49-year-old said.
The appointment Wednesday of Zida was read out by decree at the presidential palace by Alain Ouattara, the assistant secretary general of the government.
It came a day after longtime diplomat Michel Kafando, who is from the same Mossi ethnic group as Zida, was sworn in as president of the transitional government to lead the West African country to elections in a year's time. The selection of Kafando was welcomed by the United States and others, who praised the country for pressing ahead with a civilian transitional government.
The military initially had picked Zida to lead Burkina Faso after it swooped in and took control in the power vacuum after longtime President Blaise Compaore resigned on Oct. 31 after nearly 30 years in power. Compaore's resignation was forced by angry demonstrators who set the parliament on fire to show their displeasure over his attempts to seek another term in office.
The international community urged the military to swiftly hand back power or face crippling economic sanctions. It was not immediately clear whether the African Union would accept an army colonel playing such a pivotal role in the transition.
The United States had encouraged Kafando "to select individuals to serve in the transitional government who are firmly committed to a democratic, civilian government."
Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.