Tensions in Burkina Faso as presidential guard refuses to disarm


Ouagadougou (dpa) – Burkina Faso’s army on Tuesday ordered Ouagadougou residents to stay home “for security reasons” after some members of the presidential guard refused to disarm.

The order concerned people living near the barracks of the presidential guard, which staged a coup earlier this month, army chief Pingrenoma Zagre said in a statement published by the website Burkina24 and other media.

The army had earlier started supervising the disarming of the 1,200-member guard, but then said that some of its members were refusing to hand over their weapons while coup leader Gilbert Diendere was not giving them clear orders to do so.

Soldiers and tanks were seen on the streets of Ouagadougou, but it was not clear if the army was preparing an attack or if it was just mounting pressure on the presidential guard.

African Union representative Smail Chergui told the radio station Omega FM that the parties to the conflict should “do all to avoid bloodshed.”

The presidential guard took interim President Michel Kafando, interim Prime Minister Isaac Zida and two ministers captive on September 16. Under pressure from the regular army and West African leaders, coup leaders agreed several days later to hand power back to civilian authorities.

The interim government was reinstated last week, and announced Friday that it was disbanding the presidential guard.

The coup leaders had opposed plans to integrate the presidential guard into the army. They also wanted loyalists of previously toppled president Blaise Compaore to be allowed to contest elections due later this year.

Compaore fled in October 2014 to Ivory Coast following massive protests against plans to extend his 27-year rule.