US weighs Burkina Faso crisis with $15mln aid at stake

US weighs Burkina Faso crisis with $15mln aid at stake

Monday, November 3, 2014 10:49 pm

Colonel Isaac Zida: under pressure from America

Colonel Isaac Zida: under pressure from America

Washington is evaluating the political crisis in Burkina Faso and whether it will jeopardize more than $14 million in US aid as the military steps in to fill a power vacuum.

“We would call again for a civilian-led transition that follows the spirit of the constitution and moves as quickly as possible toward free and fair presidential elections,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

“Right now the precise make-up of Burkina Faso’s transitional government is an outstanding issue. We are certainly encouraging movement to a civilian-led transition and then, of course, elections,” she added.

Under US law, countries where there has been a military coup are not eligible to receive full US aid.

But Psaki said the US administration was “still gathering facts” after president Blaise Compaore was deposed and forced to resign in the wake of violent demonstrations last week.

“We’re not going to make a policy or legal determination at this point in time,” Psaki said.

Currently, the US has budgeted some $14.8 million in aid to the impoverished west African nation — most of which goes to food aid and health programs rather than military assistance.

The Burkina Faso military has promised to hand back power, naming Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida as interim head of state, while the African Union has given the army two weeks to return the country to civilian rule.

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