Nearly two weeks after the ouster of President Blaise Compaore, Burkina Faso's military leadership announced it had reached an agreement with opposition parties as well as civil and religious leaders to transition to civilian rule.
"Today was the day of compromise," said Herve Kam, a member of the civil society group Balai Citoyen. "Both soldiers and civilians agree on a civilian transition. The institutions of the transition will be led by civilians.
The various factions "unanimously voted" for the transition charter, according to Henry Ye, the president of the commission representing the differing factions in Burkina Faso.
The charter will return the small West African nation to civilian rule and provide for elections late next year. On November 1, Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida proclaimed himself head of state after violent protests led to the resignation of Compaore after 27 years in office.
According to the agreement, a special electoral college will choose an interim civilian president, who in turn will appoint a prime minister to head a 25-member transitional government. The charter also provides for a civilian to head a 90-seat parliament known as the National Transitional Council
No members of the interim government will be allowed to stand in the next elections, according to the transition plan.
News of the accord was immediately welcomed by the country's politicians and activists.
"They have succeeded where many thought they would fail," said opposition leader Adama Kanazoe of the Youth Alliance for the Defense of the Independence of the Republic." He added that the agreement was a sign of the nation's "great maturity"
"The revolution is on. Now we have a real democracy," civil activist Barkissa Konate said.
Lieutenant Colonel Zida had been under intense pressure to return power to civilian authorities after declaring himself head of state. The African Union last week gave Burkina Faso a two-week deadline to return power to the people or face potential punishment.
Zida is expected to enact the charter within days, according to participants in the negotiations.
"On all the points, even where we had differences of opinion, among Burkines we have reached a consensus. We have a charter that will be promulgated very quickly," opposition leader Zephirin Diabre said after the agreement was reached.
bw/jm (AFP, Reuters)