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.