October 1, 2015

Burkina Faso coup leader in police custody

Burkina Faso coup leader in police custody

General Gilbert Diendere, the leader of Burkina Faso’s short-lived coup, was in police custody on Thursday after handing himself in, a security source told AFP.

Diendere, who had said several times that he was willing to face justice following the September 17 putsch, was at the Paspanga police base near the centre of the capital Ouagadougou on Thursday afternoon.

A military source said military justice would deal with Diendere.

He had taken refuge at the residence of the Vatican’s representative in the country on Tuesday, according to a source familiar with the matter just prior to an army raid near the barracks of the RSP, crack troops loyal to ousted former president Blaise Compaore.

Although the unit formally abandoned their coup efforts last week — allowing the interim leadership under Michel Kafando to resume office — they refused to disarm under the terms of a peace deal, creating fresh tension with the military and sparking Tuesday’s raid.

Wednesday had seen the arrest of six pro-coup officers while another Diendere supporter, lieutenant-colonel Mamadou Bamba, who had announced the putsch on television, handed himself over to police on Thursday.

Earlier, a senior army source told AFP a majority of troops from the regiment behind the failed coup had joined loyalist units after their unit was disbanded.

“Over 800 men,” likely nearer 900, out of the 1,300 in the powerful Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) that staged the September 17 putsch have taken up new postings, a source in the army high command said, adding the remainder were being sought.

The regiment, which was loyal to Compaore, was dissolved last week and all its members assigned to other units.

Those who have yet to join loyalist forces have until Friday to show up at their new postings, failing which “they will be considered deserters”, a military source said.

Official sources say 11 people were killed and 271 injured in protests triggered by the coup, which came just weeks before the first elections scheduled to be held since Compaore was ousted last October after 27 years of iron-fisted rule.

The first round of voting was to have taken place on October 11, although officials have said there will be a delay of several weeks due to the crisis.

With the coup seemingly having fizzled out and with life having returned virtually to normal in the capital, despite a night-time curfew, Kafando felt able to fly out to the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

Wednesday, Kafando said he believed the country had “turned the page” on the unrest while promising to turn his attention to fixing an election date in consultation with all parties concerned.