Burkina Faso coup leader in custody

AP News
Posted: Oct 01, 2015 6:03 PM
Burkina Faso coup leader in custody

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — The military general in Burkina Faso who took power in a recent short-lived coup is now in custody, the West African nation's defense minister said Thursday.

Gen. Gilbert Diendere, who stepped down after about a week in power, was handed over to the gendarmerie, said defense ministry spokesman Boureima Ouedraogo.

Diendere, who led the September coup, had sought refuge at the Vatican Embassy after the army on Tuesday opened fire on his supporters in the presidential guard to force them to disarm, a person who works closely with the clergy said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he didn't have permission to speak to journalists.

Diendere had called on his supporters in the presidential guard to lay down their arms as they were supposed to disarm as part of the peace deal. He told The Associated Press that he was willing to surrender to authorities.

"I am willing to turn myself over to face justice," he said Wednesday. "I would like the people of Burkina Faso to find a solution to this crisis through dialogue."

The government vowed that Diendere and his accomplices would receive a fair trial. They are accused of attempting "to stop the process to democracy amd liberty for the people of Burkina Faso."

The elite presidential guard arrested interim President Michel Kafando and interim Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida on Sept. 16. Diendere later took power, but stepped down after pressure from the West African regional bloc, Burkina Faso's military and demonstrating citizens. The transitional government was reinstalled Sept. 23.

The presidential guard staged the coup because it was unhappy that supporters of former President Blaise Compaore, ousted in a popular uprising in October after ruling for nearly 30 years, couldn't run in elections.

About 750 of the 1,300 members of the former presidential guards now have joined a unit within the army, according to the army spokesperson Capt. Guy Herve Ye.