General Gilbert Diendere, who last week staged a coup in Burkina Faso, on Wednesday confirmed the crisis had ended, describing the putsch he led as “the biggest mistake”.
“The coup is over,” Diendere told reporters just hours after the interim president he deposed resumed office.
“Carrying out this coup was the biggest mistake,” he acknowledged.
“We knew the people were not in favour of it. That is why we have given up.”
Diendere is head of the powerful Presidential Security Regiment (RSP), the unit behind the coup, and a former chief-of-staff to longtime leader Blaise Compaore, who was deposed by a popular uprising in October 2014.
The general was speaking after a formal ceremony in Ouagadougou to reinstate the interim authority headed by president Michel Kafando which had been deposed on September 17.
After a closed-door meeting with the presidents of Nigeria and Benin, Diendere then spent 20 minutes talking with the US ambassador.
“What has put me in a good mood is the fact that we avoided confrontation,” he told reporters with a smile, saying he took “full responsibility” for the coup and was “not afraid to face justice”.
The putsch was “a waste of time and resources … and human lives were lost – I also recognise that,” he said, wearing the olive green fatigues of RSP.
Asked about the possible dissolution of the unit, he said: “It’s not up to me to decide but assurances were given that the RSP would not be dissolved and that will be discussed soon when the mediators come back.”
Talks to end the crisis have been led by mediators from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“The RSP is back in its barracks, it has pulled out of all the positions it occupied. The weapons have not yet been returned but that is something that will be done in the coming days,” he said.