Wednesday, September 30, 2015 8:56 am
Burkina Faso soldiers met little resistance as they entered a presidential guard camp in Ouagadougou, the capital where members of the elite unit were holding out after a coup, an army officer said.
Residents of the Ouaga 2000 district said they heard bursts of gunfire in late afternoon on Tuesday as troops, who had surrounded the base for most of the day, moved in.
“The armoured vehicles entered the camp without much resistance. But he wasn’t there. We don’t totally control the camp, but we’re carrying out clean-up operations,” said the officer, who asked not to be named.
He said Diendere’s vehicle had been destroyed by soldiers near the Vatican’s diplomatic compound, and the general was believed to have sought refuge inside.
“I’m in a safe place. I’m not in the camp,” Diendere told Reuters by telephone, declining to give further details of his whereabouts.
An army spokesman said earlier in the day that about 300 of the presidential guard’s estimated 1,200 soldiers had surrendered at a second camp in the capital. Regular army troops had taken control of strategic locations previously occupied by the renegades, he said.
The Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) took the president, prime minister and several cabinet members hostage on Sept. 16 and named Diendere, former right-hand man of ousted president Blaise Compaore, as leader of the subsequent junta.
The coup lasted a week and the government was restored last Wednesday, formally disbanding the presidential guard during its first post-coup cabinet meeting. Regular troops began disarming the RSP over the weekend.
Gendarmes on Tuesday arrested Compaore’s former foreign minister Djibril Bassole, who the government accused of backing Diendere and the RSP hold-outs.
Bassole had been considered among the favourites in a presidential election scheduled for Oct. 11, before he was banned from participating by the constitutional court.
The polls, which may be delayed due to the coup, are meant to restore democratic rule in Burkina Faso a year after mass demonstrations forced Compaore from power as he attempted to extend his 27-year rule.