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Reluctant archbishop favoured as Burkina transition leader

AFP , Sunday 16 Nov 2014
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A Catholic archbishop emerged Sunday as a consensus candidate to serve as Burkina Faso's interim president after the ouster of longtime ruler Blaise Compaore, sources close to the process said -- despite his own misgivings.

Paul Ouedraogo, the archbishop of the southern Bobo-Dioulasso diocese, was on the shortlist of army, opposition and civil society groups in the west African nation.

But Ouedraogo himself told French radio last week: "I don't anticipate it. The cleric doesn't engage in this kind of power."

Opposition and civil society groups are hoping that the Vatican will allow Ouedraogo to lead the west African country during a one-year transition period leading up to elections in November 2015.

Lieutenant Colonel Issac Zida, the army-installed leader, had given the various parties until noon on Sunday to submit names to a panel of 23 mainly civilian electors, who are expected to appoint the interim leader early this week.

An army official told AFP the nomination should occur "Monday at the latest", while opposition leader Zephirin Diabre, a member of the electoral college, expected the interim leader to be known by Sunday night.

The African Union on November 3 issued an ultimatum to Burkina Faso to establish interim institutions and pick an interim president by Monday or face sanctions following Compaore's October 31 ouster and the army takeover.

The electoral college met for the first time early Sunday in the capital Ouagadougou. Members will interview the candidates ahead of a working session set for 6 pm (1800 GMT).

The army also backs former diplomat Michel Kafando and Josephine Ouedraogo, a sociologist who served as family development minister in the 1980s.

On Saturday, the military reinstated the constitution, suspended when the army filled the vacuum created by Compaore's departure.

The editors in chief of two weeklies that were highly critical of Compaore's 27-year rule are also under consideration, several sources told AFP.

They are Cherif Sy and Newton Ahmed Barry of the weeklies Bendre and L'Evenement, who have both signalled their willingness to take the job, the sources said.

Religious and traditional authorities have not indicated their preferences.

A "transition charter" -- a sort of interim constitution hammered out between the military and civilian, opposition and religious figures last week -- was to be officially signed on Sunday.

Under the deal, the president will appoint a prime minister, either a civilian or a military figure, who will head a 25-member transitional government.

A civilian will also head a 90-seat parliament, known as the National Transitional Council.

According to a draft of the transition blueprint, no members of the interim regime will be allowed to stand in the November 2015 elections.

Compaore, who seized power in a 1987 coup, quit under pressure from protests sparked by his bid to extend his rule by changing the constitution of the landlocked former French colony of some 17 million people.

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