Burkina Faso Military Chief Says He Has Taken Over As Head of State

An army spokesman speaks to anti-government protesters outside military headquarters in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014. Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore declared a state of emergency on Thursday and pledged to open talks with the opposition, local radio reported, in a bid to defuse protests sparked by his attempt to extend his 27-year rule. Joe Penney/Reuters

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso's armed forces chief General Honore Traore said on Friday that he had taken charge of the West African state after former President Blaise Compaore resigned.

Compaore announced his resignation in a statement on Friday and called for a 90-day transition to "free and transparent" elections in the West African country, local radio and television said.

"I declare a vacancy of power with a view to allowing a transition that should finish with free and transparent elections in a maximum period of 90 days," said the statement, read on local radio and television by presenters.

Lieutenant-Colonel Issaac Zida of the presidential guard had earlier announced Compaore's departure in the central Place de la Nation in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou to cheering from tens of thousands of protesters.

Huge crowds had gathered to demand the president's resignation after a day of violent protests on Thursday.

A heavily armed convoy believed to be carrying Compaore was seen traveling on Friday towards the southern town of Po, near the border with Ghana, two diplomatic sources and local media said.