03:35 - Source: CNN
Burkina Faso's President resigns

Story highlights

Burkina Faso's top military official says he is in charge now

President Blaise Compaore says he resigns

Protesters stormed parliament as lawmakers considered extending the President's rule

CNN  — 

Burkina Faso’s military chief is now the head of state of the West African nation, after unrest that led to the resignation of President Blaise Compaore.

Gen. Honore Nabere Traore said Friday that he has taken over presidential duties and that he will lead the country through a political transition and elections.

Faced with violent protests demanding an end to his 27-year rule, Compaore initially dissolved the government but said he would stay in power until elections could be carried out.

He changed his mind, and on Friday announced his resignation. Compaore said he stepped down to preserve peace in the country.

Map: Burkina Faso

Traore appealed for calm and called for a return to a normal constitutional process. Security forces, including the military, will continue to maintain order and safety in the country, Traore said.

Upon his resignation, Compaore appealed via Twitter for “free elections to be held in Burkina Faso within 90 days at the most.”

France, the former colonial ruler of what is today Burkina Faso, welcomed the President’s resignation and called for elections to happen quickly.

Unrest has gripped Burkina Faso – a key ally for the West in the fight against al Qaeda – as protests against President Blaise Compaore’s government turned violent, culminating Thursday with demonstrators storming the Parliament and setting fire to the building.

Demonstrators stormed Parliament, setting fire to the building.

Compaore, who has been in office since he took power following a bloody coup in 1987, also made an appeal via Twitter, urging for a return to calm.

The opposition had called for Compaore’s immediate resignation. In Bobo-Dioulasso, the country’s second-largest city, protesters reportedly tore down a statue of Compaore.

The incident followed reports that a large group of protesters had stormed the Parliament building, where lawmakers were set to vote on a motion to allow Compaore to extend his 27 years of rule.

Flights in and out of Ouagadougou have been suspended, according to the Burkina Faso Embassy in Washington. Embassy personnel told CNN that it was still issuing visas but that there were no flights at the moment.

The West, particularly France, considers Burkina Faso a key ally in the fight against al Qaeda. The country was formerly known as the Republic of Upper Volta, when it was established in 1958 as a self-governing colony under France.

CNN’s Faith Karimi, Pierre Meilhan and Elwyn Lopez contributed to this report.