Tension in Burkina Faso as negotiations continue | Africa | DW | 22.09.2015
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Africa

Tension in Burkina Faso as negotiations continue

The leader of the Burkina Faso coup and the chief of the army were conducting last-minute talks on Tuesday, seeking to avoid bloodshed as the army prepared to "disarm" the presidential guard.

General Gilbert Diendere said on Tuesday that he remained the head of a military junta and was awaiting the outcome of a summit of West African leaders being held in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. The coup leader has said that negotiations were still ongoing, even after a deadline given by the military for the junta to disarm passed.

Loyalist troops had told those behind the coup, which derailed a democratic transition process, to disarm and surrender by 10 a.m. local time (1000 UTC/GMT) Tuesday, or face attack.

Negotiations underway

The coup leaders freed the president and the prime minister on Tuesday after the army entered the capital, but the coup leader called for the troops to leave the city. General Diendere had appeared on state television Monday, apologizing to the country and the international community for his actions.

Burkina soldiers entered the capital Ouagadougou late on Monday night without resistance from the elite presidential guard, who led a coup last week, a senior military source told Reuters. At the same time, talks between army leaders and the presidential guard on the terms of the latter's surrender began in central Ouagadougou, he added.

Burkina Faso Unruhen in Ouagadougou

Anti-coup protesters singing Burkina's National Anthem

While talking to DW, James Amekeder, a political commentator, said there was lots of jubilation all around Ouagadougou, when news arrived that the coup leaders had agreed to lay down their arms. "Everybody wants to do all to avoid further bloodshed, including the army," he said, "and they would be happy if everything ended peacefully."

An end to the crisis?

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was scheduled to hold a summit in Abuja, Nigeria, on Tuesday.The plan, proposed by the Senegalese and Beninese presidents, foresees an amnesty for the coup plotters and would allow loyalists of ousted president Blaise Compaore to contest the upcoming elections.

Amekeder thinks the decision taken will be a difficicult one for Burkinabes. He says the outcome of the meeting in Abuja will not mean much to Burkinabes. "All we are asking for is the people [coup leaders] to be disarmed and power returned to the transitional government."

Burkina soldiers entered the capital Ouagadougou late on Monday night without resistance from the elite presidential guard who led a coup last Thursday, a senior military source told Reuters. At the same time, talks between army leaders and the presidential guard on the terms of the latter's surrender began in central Ouagadougou, he added.

The heads of the National Armed Forces warned that troops would disarm the presidential guard, and aimed to do so without spilling blood.

Burkina Faso Ouagadougou General Gilbert Diendere

General Gilbert Diendere apologizes for his action

Burkina Faso was plunged into turmoil last Wednesday when soldiers from the powerful Presidential Guard Regiment (RSP) detained interim President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida. The RSP, an elite unit of 1,300 men, officially declared a coup the following day and installed General Gilbert Diendere, a close ally of former president Blaise Compaore, as the country's new leader.

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