Burkina Faso guards seize President, PM
Burkina Faso's presidential guard on Wednesday detained the country's interim President and prime minister, triggering fresh street protests by the same groups that pushed for ex-leader Blaise Compoare's ouster.world Updated: Sep 17, 2015 10:47 IST
Burkina Faso's presidential guard on Wednesday detained the country's interim President and prime minister, the parliament speaker said, triggering fresh street protests by the same groups that pushed for ex-leader Blaise Compoare's ouster.
International condemnation of the guards' actions was swift, with the United Nations and the African Union demanding the two top officials be released immediately.
Members of Compaore's powerful Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) "burst into the cabinet room and kidnapped the President of Burkina Faso Michel Kafando, Prime Minister Isaac Zida, and two ministers (Augustin Loada and Rene Bagoro)," interim parliament speaker Cheriff Sy said in a statement sent to AFP.
An AFP reporter said troops near the presidential palace fired gunshots on Wednesday night to disperse several hundred protesters who had gathered to condemn the guards' detention of the leaders.
It was impossible to immediately verify whether live rounds had been used or whether anyone had been wounded.
Protesters fled towards the city centre, as shots rang out.
Broadcasts by Radio France Internationale and the private Omega station were cut.
Sy said the detention of the president and prime minister was "a serious attack on the republic".
Compaore was toppled in October 2014 and fled into exile in Ivory Coast, after a popular uprising triggered by his attempt to extend his 27-year rule.
A transitional government has been charged with running the poverty-striken Sahel nation country, until presidential and legislative elections are held, the first round of which is to take place on October 11.
The RSP has repeatedly tried to disrupt the ongoing transition.
On Monday, the country's National Reconciliation and Reforms Commission recommended that the 1,300-man security force, considered the landlocked west African country's best troops, be disbanded.
meanwhile, a joint statement by the United Nations, African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demanded "the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages". France also urged their release.
On the ground, the Balai Citoyen ("Civic Broom") movement, which was at the forefront of last year's anti-Compaore protests, called for protesters to gather to "say no to the coup d'etat under way", an appeal that was shared widely on social networks.
State television, however, went on broadcasting its usual cartoons and a football match. Its buildings have traditionally been guarded by the RSP. A local journalist, contacted by AFP, said employees had left the broadcaster's offices as RSP reinforcements arrived.