Burkina Faso coup leader says talks are ‘ongoing’

Burkina Faso army troops stand guard outside Guillaume Ouedraogo military camp in the capital, Ouagadougou, yesterday. Picture: AFP/Getty
Burkina Faso army troops stand guard outside Guillaume Ouedraogo military camp in the capital, Ouagadougou, yesterday. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Burkina Faso’s coup leader yesterday said negotiations are ongoing, even though a deadline given by the military for the junta to disarm has expired.

General Gilbert Diendere, the coup leader who was head of an elite presidential guard until last year, said he awaits the results of talks by West African regional mediators in Abuja, Nigeria. He said that is likely where a solution lies.

Mr Diendere said there is no use for confrontations at this time, and he is confident in negotiations.

“We will find a solution between brothers in arms to avoid confrontations,” he said.

Burkina Faso’s media reported that the junta had been given a 10am deadline to disarm. The National Armed Forces said it wanted the mutinous soldiers to lay down their arms and return to barracks without bloodshed.

Soldiers from around Burkina Faso poured into the capital, Ouagadougou, overnight in a show of force as the military has vowed to disarm the mutinous presidential guard behind last week’s coup – with force, if needed.

“I call on the population of Burkina Faso to remain calm and to have confidence in the National Armed Forces who have reaffirmed their unfailing commitment to preserve the unity of the nation,” General Pingrenoma Zagre said in a statement.

A civic organisation told residents to remain in their homes.

Meanwhile, the junta met a key international demand by releasing the country’s interim prime minister, Lieutenant Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida, who had been detained last week along with the interim president before the transitional government was dissolved.

Mr Diendere apologised to the nation on Monday night through a written communique and said he would hand over power to a civilian transitional government.

West African regional mediators have proposed an agreement that calls for Mr Diendere to step down, and for interim President Michael Kafando to be reinstalled until elections can be held. Mr Kafando, who had already been released by the junta, is staying at the residence of the French ambassador in Ouagadougou.

The vote would take place no later than the end of November, and allies of ex-President Blaise Compaore would be allowed to take part.

An electoral code passed earlier this year had banned members of Mr Compaore’s party from taking part in the election. He was forced from power last October following 27 years in a popular uprising after he tried to prolong his rule by amending the constitution.

France, meanwhile, suspended all military, civilian and financial cooperation with Burkina Faso until civilian authority is restored. French President Francois Hollande announced the suspension in a statement.

He also threatened sanctions against anyone who opposes democratic elections, saying he would lobby European partners to do the same.