UPDATE 1-Burkina military restores constitution, gives deadline for new leader

Sat Nov 15, 2014 7:42am EST
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OUAGADOUGOU Nov 15 (Reuters) - Burkina Faso's military ruler said on Saturday he had restored the constitution that was suspended when President Blaise Compaore was toppled after mass protests last month.

Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, who declared himself head of state on Nov. 1 after Compaore resigned and fled the country, said political figures had until 1200 GMT on Sunday to propose a leader of the transition to civilian rule.

Compaore, a regional power broker and a key Western ally against Islamist militants, was ousted in a uprising sparked by his efforts to change the constitution so he could stand for re-election next year despite having already been in power for 27 years.

The African Union gave Zida two weeks to restore civilian rule or face sanctions. The military, political parties and civil and religious leaders will sign an agreement on Sunday on the make-up of the transitional government.

Under this charter, a body made up of five soldiers, five opposition leaders, five members of the former president's camp and eight traditional and religious leaders will select the president of the transition from the names proposed on Sunday.

The president, who will be barred from the next election, will then name a prime minister to appoint a 25-member government.

France has a special forces unit based in Burkina Faso as part of a regional counter-terrorism operation. The country, which is emerging as one of Africa's top gold producers, also mediated crises in neighbouring Mali and Ivory Coast. (Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Stephen Powell)