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Loyalist Troops Tell Burkina Coup Leaders: Surrender Or Face Attack

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Troops loyal to Burkina Faso’s government massed in the capital on Tuesday and told soldiers behind a coup to disarm and surrender by 10 a.m. or face attack, a loyalist officer said, setting up a showdown over control of the country.

Rebel soldiers still controlled the presidential palace, but troops that oppose the coup held most other key points in Ouagadougou, witnesses said.

The situation remained fluid and loyalists said the rebelling soldiers had already started negotiations on the conditions of their surrender.

In one apparent olive branch, the coup leaders released interim prime minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, who had been held hostage since the revolt began, his adviser and another loyalist officer told Reuters.

Ex-spy chief General Gilbert Diendere and his presidential guard rebelled on Wednesday, raiding a cabinet meeting and detaining the president and other ministers.

The rebellion derailed a transition in Burkina Faso, which had been preparing for an election on Oct. 11. That vote aimed to restore democracy nearly a year after an uprising toppled President Blaise Compaore who held power for 27 years in the landlocked West African country.

Huge crowds took to the streets of the capital and other cities, calling on the rebels to end their revolt. But streets were largely empty on Tuesday as the loyalist army called on people to return to their homes.

“They (the presidential guard) have until 10 a.m. to lay down their weapons and surrender at the Camp Sangoule Lamizana,” the loyalist officer said, referring to a military barracks west of the capital Ouagadougou.

“The prime minister is free. He has returned to his official residence (in the capital Ouagadougou),” said Lieutenant Boris Nadie, Zida’s aide-de-camp.

Interim President Michel Kafando, who was taken hostage in the coup and then placed under house arrest, sought protection in the French ambassador’s residence in the capital on Monday.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was due to hold an extraordinary summit on Burkina Faso in Abuja on Tuesday after mediators from the West African bloc ECOWAS announced on Sunday a draft agreement aimed at ending the crisis.

Supporters of the government rejected the proposal on the grounds that it gives amnesty to the coup leaders.

“We have no interest in the proposal that will be discussed at the summit because right now we are in the process of solving our own contradictions,” Sheriff Sy, president of interim transitional council told Reuters.

His rejection of the proposal was echoed by members of civil society as well as by protesters in the capital Ouagadougou who burned tyres and blocked streets on Monday in a show of opposition to the ECOWAS move.