As at 21:50 hrs GMT Friday 15 Jan 16 FLASH TRAFFIC. On Friday evening, gunfire and explosions were heard in the central part of Ouagadougou. Witnesses have reported seeing three gunmen near the Splendid Hotel, which is located in a busy district of the capital and frequented by United Nations officials and westerners. A car was also set on fire in front of the hotel. Unconfirmed reports of car bomb(s). The “Cappuccino” cafe located across the hotel is also believed to have been targeted.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that there is a hostage situation in the hotel.
This situation is not confirmed as over. Do not journey into the centre of Ouagadougou until it is confirmed safe to do so. Shelter in a safe place. Account for all expat and local national personnel.
Expect heavy military presence in the coming days including vehicle checkpoints and increased controls at and near airport and other potential iconic targets. Be prepared for potential disruption to flight schedules. Liaise with embassies for additional information when practical.
The attack on the hotel comes just weeks after warnings of such attacks in the wake of the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali.
The head of the country’s electoral commission disclosed on Monday that Burkina Faso should announce provisional election results on Monday.
Speaking at a news conference late on Sunday, Barthelemy Kere, president of the Independent National Electoral Commission, disclosed that there was a strong turnout in all 45 provinces and that logistical problems at the start of the day were by-and-large resolved, adding that the elections were peaceful. The electoral commission has announced results for 21 communes, out of a total of 368 communes. The results show that Roch Marc Kabore is in the lead, with Zephirin Diabre in second.
On Sunday, Burkina Faso voted in an election to choose the West African country’s first new president in decades. On the ground sources have reported that people formed long lines at polling stations to vote for the president. Polls closed at 6 PM local time. A second round will be held if no candidate secures a majority. The country’s election commission has disclosed that over five million people are registered to vote, adding that it will publish preliminary results as soon as Monday. A successful election in Burkina Faso would effectively establish the country as a beacon for democratic aspirations in Africa, where veteran leaders in Burundi and Congo Republic have changed constitutions in a bid to pave the way for fresh terms in office. Furthermore, Sunday’s election also represents a turning point for the country, which, for most of its history since gaining independence from France in 1960, has been ruled by leaders who came to power in coups.
The leader of the country’s short-lived coup was in police custody after he handed himself in as authorities ramped up a probe into last month’s putsch.
Sources have reported that General Gilbert Diendere, who had indicated several times that he was willing to face justice following the 17 September coup, was being held at the Paspanga police base, which is located near the centre of the capital. News of his arrest was met with cheers on the streets of Ouagadougou. On Tuesday, the general sought refuge at the residence of the Vatican’s ambassador just before an army raid on the barracks of his elite military regiment. In a statement, the interim government disclosed that “general Diendere and his accomplices will answer for all the offences of which they are accused,” adding that a commission of inquiry was already “hard at work” investigating the coup. A military source has disclosed that military justice will deal with General Diendere. On Wednesday, six officers who took part in the coup were arrested while lieutenant colonel Mamadou Bamba, who had read the coup plotters’ statements on television, handed himself over to police the following day. Interim authorities have accused General Diendere, who has been involved in several negotiations for hostages held by Tuareg groups in the Sahel region, of “mobilizing foreign forces and jihadis groups” in the coup. He has rejected these allegations.
Meanwhile on Thursday, the vice president of a Tuareg rebel movement, Mahamadou Djeri Maiga, was briefly arrested at Ouagadougou airport over suspected links to the coup. According to a source, Djeri Maiga, the vice president of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), “was arrested over allegations that he provided logistical support to the coup.” He was held Thursday afternoon at Ouagadougou airport as he tried to board a plane to leave the country. He was released after several hours.
According to a senior army source, a majority of troops from the presidential guard (RSP) had joined loyalist units after their regiment was disbanded under the peace agreement and assigned to other unites. A source in the army high command has disclosed that more than 800 men of the RSP’s 1,300-strong force have taken up new postings, adding that the remainder are being sought. The military source indicated that those who have yet to join loyalist forces have until Friday in order to show up at their new postings, adding that if they fail to do so, they “will be considered deserters.”
On Tuesday, Burkina Faso’s soldiers met little resistance as they entered a presidential guard camp in the capital where members of the elite unit were holding out after this month’s short-lived coup.
Residents of the Ouaga 2000 district in the capital city have reported hearing bursts of gunfire in the late afternoon as troops, who had surrounded the base for most of the day, moved in. A source, who was in command of part of the operation, has reported that General Gilbert Diendere, the leader of the coup, was not in the camp. The officer further disclosed that “…We don’t totally control the camp, but we’re carrying out clean-up operations,” adding that Diendere’s vehicle had been destroyed by soldiers near the diplomatic compound and that the general is believed to have sought refuge inside.
Earlier in the day, an army spokesman had reported that about 300 of the presidential guard’s estimated 1,200 soldiers had surrendered at a second camp in the capital city, adding that regular army troops had taken control of strategic locations that had previously been occupied by the renegades.
A week after a military takeover, Burkina Faso’s interim President Michel Kafando announced on Wednesday that he is back in charge and that civilian rule has been restored. His announcement however came as coup leader General Gilbert Diendere went to welcome a number of African leaders arriving to oversee the transfer of power. Overnight, his presidential guard agreed to a deal with the regular army in a bid to avoid further violence. They also pledged to return to their barracks and the army to withdraw from the capital Ouagadougou.
Speaking to reporters at the foreign ministry, Kafando confirmed that he has “…returned to work.” However at around the same time, around 5 km (3 miles) away, coup leader General Gilbert Diendere appeared at the aiport, where he was backed by a continent of his presidential guard, to welcome regional leaders arriving to try to negotiate an end to the crisis. Sources have reported that Interim President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida will mark their return to power in an official handover ceremony in Ouagadougou later on Wednesday, adding that until then, Diendere will remain in power. The two leaders were arrested by members of the presidential guard a week ago.
In recent days, the country’s army deployed troops into the capital in a bid to press Diendere and his soldiers to cede power. The military threatened to disarm them by force if they failed to step down. While troops loyal to the government, who had arrived in the capital from bases across the country, were not visible on the streets of Ouagadougou, presidential guard soldiers maintained their positions at the national television headquarters despite an agreement signed over night between the two sides, under which they were to be confined to barracks in order to avoid clashes.