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Anti-coup protests in Burkina amid crisis talks
September 19, 2015 / 3:25 PM / 2 years ago

Anti-coup protests in Burkina amid crisis talks

Anti-coup protesters erect a barricade in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 19, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Penney

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters burned tyres and erected barricades in the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital on Saturday in a third day of unrest since a military coup ousted the country’s interim government.

Young people wielding sticks and slingshots dragged railway fences into the streets of Ouagadougou to block soldiers loyal to coup leader General Gilbert Diendere, who is facing intense diplomatic pressure over Thursday’s putsch.

At least 10 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in street clashes with soldiers since the coup, condemned by the United States, former colonial power France and the United Nations. Most of the casualties were treated for gunshot wounds.

In an effort to mediate an end to the crisis, Senegalese President Macky Sall met overnight with Diendere -- a shadowy general and former spy master.

“We need to create a dynamic of reconciliation and forgiveness and stop the violence,” Sall, who is head of West African regional bloc ECOWAS, told reporters early on Saturday after a closed-door meeting with Diendere.

Soldiers from the elite presidential guard stormed into a cabinet meeting on Wednesday and abducted President Michel Kafando and ministers, disrupting a transition period due to end with polls on October 11.

AFRICAN UNION WARNING

The coup leaders say Kafando has since been freed and is in his residence but he has yet to appear or speak in public.

Calling themselves the National Democratic Council, they oppose the interim government’s plans to dissolve the presidential guard and claim the country faced instability after some candidates were barred from standing in the vote.

Burkina Faso, whose citizens toppled President Blaise Compaore last year as he sought to extend his 27-year rule, had been seen as a model by pro-democracy campaigners across sub-Saharan Africa.

Moumina Cheriff Sy, head of Burkina’s national assembly, called on the presidential guard overnight to turn in their weapons or be treated as “deserters and rebels”.

The African Union has suspended the West African country’s membership and given leaders 96 hours, or until September 22, to restore the former government.

Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Helen Popper

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