July 20, 2015 / 7:18 AM / 5 years ago

Burkina Faso reshuffles government 3 months before elections

Burkina Faso President Michel Kafondo (R) and Prime Minister Isaac Zida (L) arrive at a memorial service for six people who died during the recent popular uprising in Ouagadougou, December 2, 2014. REUTERS/Joe Penney

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso interim President Michel Kafando has stripped the prime minister of the defence ministry as part of a reshuffle aimed at ensuring stability three months ahead of elections.

The reshuffle, announced late on Sunday, follows talks with political, religious and civil society leaders intended to resolve growing tensions between Prime Minister Isaac Zida and top military brass.

The tensions prompted the United Nations and African Union to warn against any interference in the West African country’s transition ahead of elections on Oct. 11.

Burkina Faso’s elite presidential guard, in which Zida was formerly a senior commander, threatened to arrest him last month after he pledged to curtail their influence. Residents also reported gunfire from their barracks last month in an apparent warning to transitional leaders.

“These changes should allow us to resolve the dysfunctional problems and frustration within the army,” Kafando said on Saturday. He revealed the details of the reshuffle only on Sunday. Military sources said they had accepted the deal.

As part of the same reshuffle announced on Sunday, Colonel Auguste Denise Barry was dismissed as minister of territorial administration, decentralisation and security.

He was replaced by Youssouf Ouattara. Kafando also gave up his title of foreign affairs minister to Moussa Nebie.

Zida was briefly head of state in the immediate aftermath of long-ruling leader Blaise Compaore’s departure from power in October as tens of thousands of people marched to protest a bid to extend his mandate.

The country’s revolution last year is seen as a model by other pro-democracy groups across Africa who hope to prevent their leaders from trying to prolong their rules.

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