Senegal, Benin presidents to mediate Burkina Faso crisis

2015-09-18 11:58

Ouagadougou - The presidents of Senegal and Benin were expected in Burkina Faso on Friday to mediate a crisis triggered by a coup carried out by the presidential guard, the radio station Omega FM reported online.

Senegalese President Macky Sall and Beninese President Thomas Yayi Boni, due in Ouagadougou as representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), were expected to ask coup leader Gilbert Diendere to hand power back to civilian authorities in the West African country.

On Wednesday, soldiers from the Presidential Security Regiment interrupted a cabinet session to arrest interim President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida and two other ministers.

The coup leaders then announced the dissolution of the transitional government and parliament that had been set up after the ouster of president Blaise Compaore nearly a year ago.

The transitional period had been due to culminate in elections on October 11.

UN representative Mohamed Ibn Chambas on Thursday met with political parties that called on Diendere to release Kafando and Zida and to re-establish the transitional process.

Heavy military presence

Cheriff Sy, president of the transitional parliament, called on the presidential guard to "immediately lay down arms" and to report to the army chief of staff.

"Those who do not submit themselves to this call will be regarded as deserters and rebels and will be treated as such," he warned in a Friday statement.

Sy had challenged Diendere by announcing that he was temporarily assuming the duties of the head of state after the presidential guard arrested Kafando.

Diendere imposed an overnight curfew accompanied in the capital by heavy military presence, according to media reports.

The curfew was not respected in other provinces, where peaceful demonstrations were held.

At least two people had been killed in clashes with the presidential guard in Ouagadougou on Thursday. Some reports put the number of victims at more than 10.

The 1,300-member presidential guard is believed to have been unsatisfied with plans to dissolve it and integrate it into the military police.

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