Burkina Faso army seizes control
People gesture as they celebrate the departure of Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso Joe Penney/Reuters

The ongoing political crisis in Burkina Faso is throwing up fresh challenges as rival army officers have claimed control of the landlocked African country.

Colonel Isaac Zida, the presidential guard's second in command army officer, has claimed he has taken charge as the head of state removing army general Honore Traore, who earlier said he was leading the former French colony.

"While we wait to define in a consensual manner, with all of the political parties and civil society organisations, the contours and composition of this peaceful democratic transition, I will henceforth assume, from today, the responsibilities of the head of this transition and the head of state," said Zida.

Shortly after his formal announcement, Zida told Reuters: "This is not a coup d'état but a popular uprising. The people have hopes and expectations, and we believe we have understood them."

The announcement has come just hours after Traore, a loyalist of President Blaise Compaore, who has resigned, made a similar declaration.

The crisis unfolded when scores of protesters marched against the government setting the country's parliament on fire in capital Ouagadougou demanding an end to the 27-year rule of Compaore. Though he initially refused to step down, he announced his resignation later owing to growing pressure.

Compaore's whereabouts are unknown while the presidency remains vacant.

The US has been watching the situation closely exhorting all sides to resolve matters peacefully.

"We condemn any attempts by the military or other parties to take advantage of the situation for unconstitutional gain and call on all parties to respect the people's support for the democratic process," US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.