Burkina Faso coup leaders have agreed to return to their barracks and said they would restore the deposed president to power, signing a deal with the army that apparently defuses a tense standoff sparked by last week’s coup.
The breakthrough came on Tuesday night after marathon talks in Nigeria’s Abuja, where West African heads of state had sought to break the impasse fuelled by angry threats on both sides.
The deal was signed a day after troops entered Burkina’s capital of Ouagadougou, turning up the pressure on the elite presidential guards (RSP), who staged the coup.
Under its terms, the RSP agreed to step down from the positions they had taken up in Ouagadougou, while the army also agreed to withdraw its troops 50km from the capital and guarantee the safety of the RSP members as well as their families.
The deal was presented to the Mogho Naba, or “king” of Burkina Faso’s leading Mossi tribe, in front of the media early Wednesday.
Burkina Faso plunged into crisis last Wednesday when the powerful RSP detained the interim leaders who had been running the country since a popular uprising deposed iron-fisted President Blaise Compaore last October.
The elite unit of 1,300 men loyal to Compaore officially declared a coup on Thursday and installed rebel leader General Gilbert Diendere, Compaore’s former chief of staff, as the country’s new leader.
The breakthrough came as Diendere told AFP news agency that interim President Michel Kafando, who had been seized by presidential guards, but later was released, would be returned to office on Wednesday.
The return of “Kafando is already a done deal. The [African] heads of state arrive tomorrow to put him back in office,” Diendere said late Tuesday.
In a statement, the Economic Community of West African States said it planned to reinstate and demonstrate solidarity with the Kafando, who was kidnapped last Wednesday along with his interim Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida. Kafando was released on Friday
The release of Zida on Tuesday, an apparent olive branch, came hours after army soldiers entered Ouagadougou without resistance.