November 23, 2014 / 8:22 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Transitional government appointed in Burkina Faso

(Adds details, context throughout)

OUAGADOUGOU, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Burkina Faso authorities issued a decree on Sunday announcing an interim government, with President Michel Kafando and prime minister Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida also taking on the key ministries of foreign affairs and defence.

Of the 26 posts available, the army claimed six, including mines, communications and the interior ministry. Other members were drawn from civil society groups and a medley of political parties.

Burkina Faso’s former President Blaise Compaore was forced from power by mass protests in late October as he sought to amend the constitution to prolong his 27-year rule.

A brief period of army rule ensued, led by Zida, before he bowed to pressure from the African Union to cede power to a civilian president who will rule until elections in 2015.

Western diplomats have expressed reserve about a strong army presence in the transitional government and advised against the appointment of Zida as prime minister. Under the terms of a transitional charter agreed earlier this month, neither Zida nor Kafando are eligible to run for president next year.

Under Compaore’s rule, the West African country, a gold and cotton producer, acted as a key Western ally against Islamist militants in the vast desert area known as the Sahel to its north. France has a special forces unit based in Burkina Faso as part of a regional counter-terrorism operation. (Reporting by David Lewis and Mathieu Bonkoungou; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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