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Zida: enigma of Burkina’s interim leader


Zida: enigma of Burkina’s interim leader

Isaac Zida, beating army chief Nabere Honore Traore to the top job – at least temporarily – as his former boss was considered too close to the deposed leader.

Second in command of the presidential guard, Lieutenant-Colonel Zida appears to be popular with his men.

“He’s a bon vivant who wouldn’t hesitate to swap his fatigues for a suit to go around the discos of Ouagadougou,” a source close to him said.

Others, however, describe the 49-year-old protestant as steady, serious and reliable. And he was one of the few presidential guards spared by mutineers who launched a failed coup in 2011 against Compaore, a military source and a rights activist told AFP.

But some view him with suspicion over his ties with general Gilbert Diendere, who was Compaore’s chief of staff.

“He is part of the same network as Diendere. Some don’t trust him,” one security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Even in the streets, protesters don’t know quite know what to make of him. At Sunday’s demonstration against the military some banners read, “Zida out” and “Zida is Judas”, while another was more nuanced: “No opportunism. We like the colonel but would prefer a civilian.”

Zida, a well-built man who wears a moustache and frameless glasses, has his origins in Yako, in the centre-north province of Passore.

He was trained at the Commando Training Centre of Po – in the south of the west African country, according to one of his aides.

He also received further military training in Morocco and Cameroon and got a masters in international management from Jean Moulin university in Lyon, France.

Zida was also a UN peacekeeper in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a year from 2008, a member of his team told AFP, before travelling to the US to undergo anti-terrorist training in Florida.

During the 2011 political crisis in the Ivory Coast, he was a liaison officer on Compaore’s staff while he tried to mediate a solution to the stand-off, a UN source said.

“That’s what worries us. He was second-in-command of the presidential guard. Is it really Compaore that is doing the manoeuvring?” a western security source questioned.

“At the moment we can talk to him… but when he is in power he can go his own way,” the source added.




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