Nov 6, 2014 4:27 PM

Burkina Faso leader cross with regional mediators

The Associated Press

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) Burkina Faso's military leader lashed out at regional mediators on Thursday.

The comments from Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida come as the international community pressures him to hand over power to a civilian transitional government nearly a week after he declared himself in charge. Zida's ascension came after Burkina Faso's president of 27 years fled the country amid mounting opposition to his bid for a fifth term.

International envoys are pressing Burkina Faso to quickly designate a civilian leader for a transitional period until new elections can be held, and the African Union has threatened sanctions if that doesn't happen soon.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "We continue to call for a civilian-led transition as quickly as possible."

Talks on Wednesday failed to designate a leader, but diplomats said some progress had been made: All sides have agreed that the transition should last one year and elections should be held in November 2015.

"I believe that in days, rather than in weeks, we will be able to reach an agreement and install a transitional government," Ghana's president, John Dramani Mahama, said late Wednesday after meetings ended. "I am certain that we will not reach the stage where the international community will have to impose sanctions."

Mahama, who currently chairs the regional bloc of West African states, known as ECOWAS, was mediating talks along with the presidents of Senegal and Nigeria.

On Thursday, the opposition and other prominent leaders met to determine their criteria for a transitional leader and to describe how they would like the transitional period to proceed.

ECOWAS is holding an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the crisis in Burkina Faso as well as the Ebola outbreak.


Matthew Lee contributed from Washington.



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