Military confirms Burkina Faso coup, dissolves government

Interim President of Burkina Faso Michel Kafando speaks during his inauguration ceremony November 21, 2014 in Ouagadougou. Kafando, 72, former ambassador to the UN, was sworn in as transitional president three weeks after the fall of Blaise Compaore when he tried to extend his 27-year rule. AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU

The military in Burkina Faso has announced the dissolution of the country’s transitional government, a day after presidential guards arrested the interim president and prime minister.

President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Yacouba Zida were detained by soldiers who stormed an afternoon Cabinet meeting, plunging the poor West African country into chaos and uncertainty.

The coup comes days before the country’s first election since last year’s ouster of long-serving ruler, Blaise Compaore.

Mr. Compoare was deposed in a popular uprising in 2014.

The interim leaders were due to hand power to a new government after elections on October 11.

Their arrest on Wednesday triggered fresh street protests outside the presidential palace.

Soldiers responded with gunfire and forced radio and television stations to stop broadcasting.

An unnamed military official said on Thursday that the interim president, Mr. Kafando, had been stripped of his functions and the government dissolved.

“We have put in place a national democracy council tasked with organising democratic and inclusive elections,” said the unidentified official in military uniform, according to Reuters.

Moumina Cheriff Sy, the speaker of the transitional parliament, called the coup “a blow to the republic and its institutions”.

“I call on all patriots to gather to defend the motherland,” he said.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed outrage over the coup, calling for the immediate release of the leaders.

In a statement, Mr. Ban’s press office said, “This incident is a flagrant violation of Burkina Faso’s Constitution and Transitional Charter”.

The United States also called for the immediate release of the interim president, prime minister.

“The United States strongly condemns any attempt to seize power through extra-constitutional means or resolve internal political disagreements using force,” State Department spokesperson, John Kirby, said in a statement.

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