Burkina Faso army moves on capital to disarm coup leaders

Military heads in Burkina Faso says armed forces converging in capital Ouagadougou to disarm elite presidential guard 'without bloodshed'

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Presidential guard soldiers are seen on an armoured vehicle at Laico hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 20, 2015

Updated Sep 22, 2015

Military heads in Burkina Faso said on Monday that the West African nation's armed forces were converging in the capital Ouagadougou to disarm the elite presidential guard "without bloodshed."

The 1,200-member unit staged a coup on Wednesday, taking hostage the interim president and members of the government just weeks before the Oct. 11 polls, which are meant to restore democracy, following last year's overthrow of longtime leader Blaise Compaore.

"We ask them to immediately lay down their arms and go to Camp Sangoule Lamizana," read the statement signed by several military chiefs, referring to a barracks in Ouagadougou.

"They and their families will be protected," it added.

Mediators from regional bloc ECOWAS announced a draft agreement aimed at ending the crisis late on Sunday. However the proposal, which included an amnesty for the coup leaders, was swiftly rejected by civil society and opposition politicians.

Demonstrators protesting against the coup leader General Gilbert Diendere and the ECOWAS deal erected barricades and burned tyres in several neighbourhoods across the capital on Monday.

Large protests were also organised in several other towns.

"There's a potential civil conflict there now. If [Diendere] stays, the people will fight him," said Rinaldo Depagne, West Africa project director for the International Crisis Group.