Africa

Burkina Faso coup leader 'ready to hand over power'

Coup leader Gen Gilbert Diendere Image copyright EPA
Image caption The whereabouts of coup leader Gen Gilbert Diendere are unknown

The coup leader in Burkina Faso has said he is ready to hand over power to transitional civilian authorities, as the army is marching on the capital.

Gen Gilbert Diendere, who led last Thursday's coup by the presidential guard, also apologised to the nation.

The military earlier said troops were moving on to Ouagadougou, adding that the plotters must disarm.

The coup was carried out by allies of President Blaise Compaore, who was ousted by street protests last year.

Former colonial power France warned of "consequences" if they do not disarm.

In a statement, French President Francois Hollande called on those involved "to immediately lay down arms and hand over power to the legitimate authorities or face the consequences".

He added that "civilian, financial and military co-operation" had been suspended until the interim government of transitional President Michel Kafando was reinstated.

Mr Kafando took refuge in French ambassador's residence late on Monday night.

"I confirm, with the authorisation of President Kafando, he is indeed in the French residence," Ambassador Gilles Thibault tweeted (in French).

At least 10 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in clashes since Thursday.

Confusing situation

In a statement late on Monday, Gen Diendere said he was committed to handing over power to civil authorities based on the proposals of regional mediators.

He also said he was prepared to release abducted Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida.

The general said he "deplored the loss of life", apologising to "the nation and the international community".

But he warned that the country could face "chaos, civil war and massive human rights violations".

Gen Diendere's whereabouts are unknown, and there have been reports that he has taken refuge in the home of a traditional leader.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption There have been protests in the capital against the coup leaders
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Michel Kafando had been due to hand over power after elections due in October
Image copyright AFP
Image caption A statement by the army chiefs offered safety guarantees for those coup supporters who disarmed

His comments followed a statement by the army chiefs who said that "all the national armed forces are converging on Ouagadougou with the sole aim of disarming the presidential guard without any bloodshed".

They said the coup supporters must hand in their weapons to barracks in exchange for safety guarantees.

"They and their families will be protected," the statement added.

Local media reports describe troops leaving several towns throughout the country to converge on the capital, the BBC's Laeila Adjovi in Ouagadougou says.

Hundreds of people are reported to be out in the streets in Ouagadougou to celebrate what they believe is the end of the coup - but the situation is still confused and it is still possible that events may spiral out of control.

Gen Diendere, who was the chief of staff to Blaise Compaore, led the coup a month before elections had been due in the landlocked country.

The mediators from the West African Ecowas bloc said over the weekend there had been a breakthrough and hinted that the transitional government could return.

The propositions include inclusive elections with candidates of the former ruling party and an amnesty for the coup leaders.

However, this offer was rejected by many actors of the political scene and of civil society, our correspondent says.

There have been protests in the capital against the coup leaders, with demonstrators burning tyres.

The coup has been condemned by the US and France, and the African Union has suspended the country.


Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Protestors stormed Burkina Faso's parliament in October 2014 over Blaise Compaore's plan to extent his 27-year rule

Related Topics

More on this story