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Burkina Faso Army Moves on Capital to Disarm Coup Leaders

( [email protected] ) Sep 21, 2015 02:24 PM EDT
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".
Men walk in front of a burning barricade set up by anti-coup protesters in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Penney

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - 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 Oct. 11 polls 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 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.

(Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Emma Farge)