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African Union issues ultimatum to Burkina Faso army

The African Union (AU) has issued a two-week deadline for Burkina Faso's military to hand over power to a civilian led government or face regional sanctions.

The latest statement comes following a meeting of the AU's Peace and Security Council in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday. The head of the Council, Simeon Oyono Esono said,

"We ask the armed forces to transfer power to the civil authorities, and the council has determined a period of two weeks for the transfer."

"The African Union is convinced that the change has been against democracy. However, we know that popular pressure led to the resignation of the president... Those circumstances were taken by the armed forces to get into power, but it originated from the people."

The BBC's Emmanuel Igunza commented that sanctions that could be imposed including suspension of Burkina Faso's membership of the AU and a travel ban on military officials.

The UN envoy for West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas echoed the AU's sentiments, stating that if the army did not cede power "the consequences are pretty clear". "We want to avoid having to impose sanctions on Burkina Faso," he added.

The United States and United Nations also commented on the situation in the African country, with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki calling for "a civilian-led transition that follows the spirit of the constitution" and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon adding that he hoped for "a peaceful and democratic transition arrangement."

After Lt Col Isaac Zida was named as leader of the country on Saturday, the military quickly issued a statement saying that “power does not interest us”.

Meanwhile Zida, the current interim leader of Burkina Faso, said,

"Our understanding is that the executive powers will be led by a transitional body but within a constitutional framework that we will watch over carefully."