The head of Burkina Faso’s armed forces took power on Friday after President Blaise Compaore resigned amid mass demonstrations against an attempt to extend his 27-year rule.
Compaore, who seized power in a 1987 coup, had attempted to defy popular pressure for him to step down after a day of violent protests on Thursday in which demonstrators stormed parliament and state television.
“I declare a vacancy of power with a view to allowing a transition that should end with free and transparent elections in a maximum period of 90 days,” Compaore said in a written statement read on local radio and television.
A heavily armed convoy believed to be carrying Compaore was seen travelling on Friday towards the southern town of Po, near the border with Ghana, two diplomatic sources and local media said.
Crowds danced and cheered in Ougadougou’s dusty streets, blowing on whistles after Compaore’s statement was broadcast. The mood cooled, however, as it became plain that military chief General Honore Traore had taken over the reins of power.
Under Burkina Faso’s constitution, when the president resigns the head of the National Assembly should take office, but parliament had already been dissolved by Traore on Thursday under short-lived martial law.