The leader of the military coup in Burkina Faso, Gen. Gilbert Diendere, announced Sunday that he will remain in power until elections are held in October, the BBC reported. Diendere’s move has cast doubts on talks, which were underway in the capital of Ouagadougou.
A presidential election was scheduled for Oct. 11. The coup took place Thursday when the presidential guard overthrew an interim civilian government and took the interim president, prime minister and other ministers hostage. At least 10 people were reported dead in the ensuing violence.
Benin President Yayi Boni, a mediator, was optimistic Saturday that the presidential guard will relinquish some of its power and allow President Michel Kafando to return to power. This gave rise to hopes that the mediation process was moving forward. Kafando was freed after being taken hostage, but it was unclear if Prime Minister Isaac Zida had also been freed.
However, talks taking place in a hotel in Ouagadougou Sunday were disrupted when demonstrators stormed the building. Several people were injured. The ambassadors from France and the U.S. were unharmed.
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French President Francois Hollande issued a warning Sunday against any attempts to block talks, Reuters reported.
"We fully support the dialogue that has been envisaged by several African leaders ... to go back to a transition process," he said. "There are discussions taking place as we speak, and France backs the African mediations. I address a strong warning to those who would be tempted to oppose them."
Anti-coup leaders set up barricades around Ouagadougou Sunday, Reuters reported. In a Facebook post, Serge "Smockey" Bambara, the leader of the group Citizen’s Broom, wrote: “Our country calls us comrades! We must paralyze Ouagadougou by any means.” The coup has failed to gain widespread support across Burkina Faso.
Diendere previously served as the chief of staff for President Blaise Compaore, who himself was overthrown in October after 27 years in power. Although Diendere has said he will remain in power until the presidential election, it remained unclear Sunday whether or not the elections will take place.
Diendere said he will do everything to “avoid violence that could plunge the country into chaos.”