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Burkina Faso coup leader Gen Diendere defies ultimatum

BBC.COM
Burkina Faso's coup leader has defied an ultimatum to step down, saying his forces will retaliate if attacked.

Army chiefs had given Gen Gilbert Diendere a 10:00 GMT deadline to surrender or face an assault.

The army has ordered anti-coup protesters in the capital, Ouagadougou, to return home, amid fears of fighting.

Gen Diendere seized power last week with the backing of the presidential guard, but the army has remained loyal to the deposed government.

Its troops have entered the capital, vowing to retake it. The European Union (EU) has called on the presidential guard to immediately lay down their weapons to avoid bloodshed.

Regional leaders are holding crisis talks in Nigeria to discuss a peace plan for the former French colony.

At least 10 people have been killed and more than 100 injured since the coup in clashes between the presidential guard and protesters.

Fear are now growing in Ouagadougou that fighting could erupt between the army and presidential guard, reports the BBC's Maud Jullien from the city.

Gen Diendere staged the coup after opposing moves to integrate the presidential guard into the army.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital, he said he did not want bloodshed, but would defend himself if attacked.

Earlier, an army officer said talks with Gen Diendere had broken down.

"He wants a fight," said the officer, who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity.

Gen Diendere says he will step aside once regional leaders endorse a peace plan, including an amnesty for coup plotters.

He has released the interim president and the prime minister,

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following talks brokered by mediators.

France's ambassador to Burkina Faso, Gilles Thibault, tweeted that interim President Michel Kafando, who was arrested last Wednesday, was now at the ambassador's residence.

Gen Diendere seems to be backed into a corner by international and national pressure, and on Monday thousands gathered to celebrate what they believed was his defeat, our reporter says.

Many residents feel betrayed by the peace plan, put together by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) regional body, she adds.

It includes the return to civilian government, an amnesty for the soldiers behind the coup and elections by the end of November.

In an interview with BBC Afrique, the general said he would only step aside once a proposed deal was confirmed by regional leaders at their summit in Abuja.

It would give him and his troops full amnesty, and allow candidates of former ruler Blaise Compaore to run for presidency in November.

Gen Diendere, who once served as chief of staff to Mr Compaore, said: "Ready to surrender? We are not there yet... We wish to continue the discussions and we say to all that we are ready to implement Ecowas' decisions."

He also apologised to the population, saying it was "the least we could do".

The presidential guard is loyal to ousted President Compaore and installed Gen Diendere as the new leader last week - a month before elections had been due in the landlocked country.

BBC



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