Tanks roll on capital as Burkino Faso army challenges coup leaders

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Ouagadougou (dpa) – Dozens of tanks were seen moving Monday towards Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, as the army said it had decided to put an end to a coup by the presidential guard.

Witnesses said the tanks were coming from army bases in other parts of the West African country.

An army communique called on the presidential guard to lay down its arms, promising that its members would not be harmed.

The army had decided to “liberate the Burkinabe people,” local radio station Omega FM reported.

Citizens applauded tanks as they passed by while Ouagadougou residents erected barricades to prevent the presidential guard from blocking their entry into the capital.

Protests against the coup continued throughout the country, but no violence was reported Monday.

About 10 people have been killed so far by members of the presidential guard firing at demonstrators.

In a previous statement published at the weekend, the army condemned “all acts of violence towards the population” and said it was seeking “peace and security.”

Political parties and civil society representatives, meanwhile, were discussing a solution proposed by the Beninese and Senegalese presidents who visited Burkina Faso on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over the weekend.

They were expected to oppose the plan, which foresees an amnesty for members of the presidential guard who arrested interim President Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida and two ministers Wednesday.

The plan would also allow loyalists of former president Blaise Compaore to contest elections to end a transitional period that followed his ouster nearly a year ago. That was one of the demands of coup leader Gilbert Diendere, who had headed the presidential guard under Compaore.

Supporters of the former president had previously been banned from standing in the elections, which had been scheduled for October 11.

The ECOWAS mediators proposed November 22 as a new election date.

Kafando, who has been released, and Diendere met the mediators separately.

The interim government took office after Compaore fled the country in October following massive protests against his plans to extend his 27-year rule.

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