BURKINA FASO: Troops Issues Ultimatum to Coup Leaders

OUAGADOUGOU SEPTEMBER 22, 2015(CISA)-Burkina Faso’s troops have issued an ultimatum to coup leaders to lay down their weapons or face assault.

The ultimatum came hours after the elite presidential guard released the country’s Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida from custody.

The deadline, which expires at 10am GMT on Tuesday September 22, came as talks between the army and the elite presidential guard continued in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Coup leader General Gilbert Diendere, staged the coup last week after opposing moves to integrate the presidential guard into the army.

The presidential guard is an elite unit of around 1,300 soldiers loyal to Mr Compaore, which he set up for his own protection in the wake of the 1987 killing of his predecessor, and close ally, Thomas Sankara during a coup which led to Mr Compaore taking over.

The release of Zida, who was detained alongside the country’s president and an unknown number of cabinet ministers last Wednesday September 18  by presidential guard soldiers, came hours after army soldiers entered Ouagadougou without resistance.

“All units of the army mobilised on Monday to march on the capital reached Ouagadougou overnight, Colonel Serge Alain Ouedraogo,” deputy head of the Burkinabe police, told the AFP news agency.

Diendere on Monday apologised to the nation and said he would hand over control to a civilian transitional government after the military warned that its forces would converge on the capital and forcibly disarm the soldiers behind the power grab.

At least 10 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in protests sparked by the coup, which came just weeks before what would have been the first elections since Compaore was ousted in a popular revolt last October after trying to extend his 27-year grip on power.

Compaore said his presidential guard unit “confirms our commitment to giving power back to civilian authorities,” in a communiqué issued to journalists.

That was one of the key conditions of a draft agreement that resulted from weekend negotiations with regional mediators, but it had been unclear until his announcement whether the coup leaders would abide by those terms.

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