Burkina Faso coup leader to ‘hand over power’

General Diendere’s statement comes just as army threatens to forcibly disarm presidential guard members led by him.

An anti-coup protester holds a Burkinabe flag in Ouagadougou
Violent protests have been held since last week's coup [Reuters]

Burkina Faso’s coup leader has apologised to the nation and said that he would hand over power to a civilian transitional government.

The statement issued by General Gilbert Diendere to journalists in Burkina Faso came after the military threatened on Monday to forcibly disarm presidential guard members led by him, who were responsible for last week’s coup ahead of October 11 polls.

Diendere said he would release the interim prime minister who has been under house arrest since the coup.

After the announcement, Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from the capital Ouagadougou, said people were taking to the streets by the military headquarters to celebrate what they hoped meant the end to the coup and the chance of elections later this year.

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The military had earlier said that “all the national armed forces are converging on Ouagadougou with the sole aim of disarming the presidential guard without any bloodshed”.

Several people have been killed and dozens others injured during demonstrations against the coup.

‘Deep-rooted problems’

Regional mediators spent the weekend trying to broker a compromise between the military government that seized power in a coup last week and other politicians in the West African country.

Violence grips Ouagadougou

They announced a plan late on Sunday that called for new elections by the end of November. However, Diendere did not attend the news conference where the draft agreement was read aloud.

Interim President Michel Kafando voiced reservations about the proposal in a radio interview on Monday, saying: “I have reservations about this draft agreement” which leaves “deep-rooted problems” without solutions.”

In a concession to Diendere and his supporters, the plan would allow loyalists of the former longtime president to take part in the vote.

One of the chief reasons cited for the coup was that an electoral code approved earlier this year banned members of the former ruling party from running for office.

Under that plan, Diendere would step aside and the interim president he overthrew would be reinstalled until the vote.

The draft plan will go before the West African regional bloc known as the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, in Nigeria on Tuesday.

Blaise Compaore served as president for 27 years, and his bid to further extend his rule prompted massive street protests and eventually led to his overthrow.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies