Burkina Faso military general seeks refuge at the Vatican Embassy
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — The military general who led the short-lived coup in Burkina Faso has sought refuge at the Vatican Embassy, a day after the army opened fire on his supporters in the presidential guard to force them to disarm, a person who works closely with the clergy said Wednesday.
Gen. Gilbert Diendere is sheltering at the Vatican nunciature in the Western African country’s capital, according to the person close to the Catholic clergy who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists. The Vatican spokesman did not immediately respond to an email requesting information.
Negotiations are underway for Diendere to give himself up, the government said in a communique.
Diendere told The Associated Press he is willing to surrender to authorities.
“I am willing to turn myself over to face justice,” he said. “I would like the people of Burkina Faso to find a solution to this crisis through dialogue. All p arties must talk to find an inclusive solution for the future of the country.”
Diendere on Tuesday called on his followers to lay down arms.
Under a peace deal, the presidential guard was supposed to disarm but they refused. On Tuesday the army used force to take over all the places occupied by the presidential guard.
Transitional President Michel Kafando on Wednesday congratulated the military.
“The honor of Burkina is now safe,” he said, calling it a turning point for the country. He commended the operation and said it didn’t result in any casualties.
The government asked citizens to be tolerant toward ex-presidential guard soldiers, many of whom will be reintegrated into the army.
The presidential guard arrested Kafando and interim Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida on Sept. 16. Diendere later took power, but stepped down. The transitional government was reinstalled Sept. 23.
Associated Press writer Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this story.
By Brahima Ouedraogo And Baba Ahmed
Democracy in Burkina Faso restored on my day! Interesting indeed.