Burkina Faso\’s transitional government named Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida as prime minister on Wednesday, four days after he restored the country\’s constitution under pressure from the African Union and the West.
Zida declared himself head of state on Nov. 1 after mass protests toppled President Blaise Compaore who then fled the West African country. The African Union gave Zida two weeks to restore civilian rule or face economic sanctions.
As prime minister, Zida, a large, bespectacled man with a trademark red beret, will help Burkina Faso\’s newly appointed interim president, Michel Kafando, to appoint a 25-member government that will steer the country to new elections in 2015.
Neither Kafando, a former foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations, nor Zida will be allowed to take part in next year\’s presidential election.
Compaore triggered the protests against his rule last month when he tried to change the constitution and extend his 27-year grip on power.
Compaore was a regional power broker and a key Western ally against Islamist militants. France has a special forces unit based in Burkina Faso as part of a regional counter-terrorism operation. The country has long been one of Africa\’s cotton producers and is now also mining gold.