(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.
People stand in front of smoke rising from Burkina Faso’s parliament building, where demonstrators set parked cars on fire Thursday October 30, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. There have been violent clashes in the capital as protesters demonstrate against the high cost of living and a proposal to amend the constitution so President Blaise Compaore can run for another term. The Burkinabe government announced October 30 that it is dropping the proposed amendment, and Compaore appealed for calm via Twitter.
Troops face off against protesters on October 30. Compaore has been in office since 1987, when he took power following a bloody coup.
A Burkina Faso deputy clutches a national flag as he flees parliament on October 30.
Troops line up against protesters after hundreds of protesters stormed parliament on October 30.
A protester poses in front of a burning car outside of parliament on October 30.
Cars and documents are set ablaze outside parliament on October 30.
Protesters enter the parliament on October 30.
Police cordon off access to parliament on Wednesday, October 29.
People gather October 29 to take part in a march protesting the cost of living in Ouagadougou.
People march in Ouagadougou on October 29.
Photos: Unrest in Burkina Faso
Map: Burkina Faso
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 partner for Western countries in the campaign against Islamist militants — since protests against Compaore’s government turned violent Thursday.
Demonstrators stormed Parliament, setting fire to the building.
Compaore had been in office since he took power after a bloody coup in 1987.
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 of protesters storming the parliament building, where lawmakers were set to vote on a motion to allow Compaore to extend his time in power.
Flights in and out of Ouagadougou, the capital, 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 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.