UPDATE 5-Protests force out Burkina president, soldiers vie for power

Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:47pm EDT
 
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* In statement, Compaore calls for election in 90 days

* Protesters frustrated after military chief claims power

* General vows "process of return to constitutional order"

* Lieutenant Colonel appears to challenge military chief (Adds analyst comment, details, quotes)

By Mathieu Bonkoungou and Joe Penney

OUAGADOUGOU, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore resigned on Friday amid mass street protests at his attempts to extend his 27-year rule, plunging the West African nation into uncertainty as junior officers vied with top military brass for power.

Compaore, a taciturn former soldier in office since a 1987 military coup, had sought to defy popular pressure for him to step down after a day of violent unrest on Thursday in which demonstrators burned parliament and ransacked state television.

Impoverished Burkina Faso had emerged under Compaore as a key mediator in the turbulent Sahel and his departure robs the region of a wily elder statesman -- though one often criticised for his rights record and meddling in his neighbours' affairs.

The landlocked nation has become a key ally in Western operations against al Qaeda-linked groups in West Africa and the unfolding political crisis was being closely watched by the United States and France, which has a special forces base there.   Continued...