Career diplomat Michel Kafando has been named as Burkina Faso’s interim president to steer the west African nation during a one-year transition back to civilian rule following the toppling of its veteran leader.
The appointment of the former foreign minister and UN ambassador is set to end weeks of uncertainty after violent protests brought down the 27-year regime of president Blaise Compaore and the military seized power.
“It is an awesome responsibility that falls to me, I already foresee the pitfalls and the immensity of the task,” the 72-year-old Kafando told reporters, describing his appointment as “more than an honour”.
His appointment came ahead of a deadline imposed by the African Union, which had warned the impoverished country would face sanctions unless it chose an interim leader by Monday.
AU chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma welcomed Kafando’s appointment and praised the people of Burkina Faso “for their political maturity and sense of responsibility”, and called for “a smooth transition under the direction of civil authorities”.
Kafando, who will have to be confirmed by the Constitutional Council, served as ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2011. He was also Burkina Faso’s foreign minister in 1982-3.
Kafando’s appointment came after the military on Saturday reinstated the constitution that it suspended when it took over following Compaore’s ousting.
On Sunday the military officially signed a “transition charter” – a sort of interim constitution hammered out between the military and civilian, opposition and religious figures last week.
Under the deal, the president will appoint a prime minister, either a civilian or a military figure, who will head a 25-member transitional government.
A civilian will also head a 90-seat parliament, known as the National Transitional Council.