The head of Burkina Faso’s new ruling council says the president and prime minister are safe in military custody and will soon be released.
Brigadier General Gilbert Diendere spoke to VOA’s French to Africa Service Thursday, one day after soldiers overthrew the West African country’s transitional government.
The general said the military staged the coup because the country’s political process was biased. He said he will start a political dialogue that includes all parties and will lead to elections at a date to be determined.
Burkina Faso was scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary polls on October 11, just short of one year after president Blaise Compoare was ousted in a popular uprising.
The transitional government barred supporters of the toppled president from seeking office, and a national reconcilation commission had recommended that Compoare’s powerful presidential guard be disbanded.
General Diendere is a longtime ally of Compoare, who ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years.
A soldier on state-run television announced Thursday that the transitional government has been dissolved and interim President Michel Kafando stripped of his duties. Diendere was named chairman of what the military is calling the “National Council for Democracy.”
Civil society groups have called demonstrators to gather at the presidential palace and other locations to protest Wednesday’s coup.
Gunfire rang out across the capital Ouagadougou, as soldiers fired into the air to disperse groups of young people attempting to gather on the streets. The U.S. Embassy reports that roadblocks have been established throughout the city.
The U.N. Security Council has demanded the president and prime minister be released, and condemned the detentions in the “strongest terms.” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was outraged and called it a “flagrant violation” of Burkina Faso’s constitution.
The U.S. Embassy also called for the officials’ release and said the U.S. “strongly condemns any attempt to seize power through extra-constitutional means.”
Compaore, who ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years, stepped down last October amid protests over his plan to amend the constitution so he could extend his stay in office.