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Deposed interim president under house arrest in Burkina Faso

Issouf Sanogo, AFP file picture | Burkina Faso's deposed interim president Michel Kafando during a visit to Ivory Coast on July 31, 2015

Burkina Faso’s deposed interim president Michel Kafando, who was detained along with the country’s premier and two ministers prior to a military coup Thursday, has been placed under house arrest, the head of parliament told FRANCE 24 on Friday.

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“The president is [still] being held. Right now he is under house arrest,” Cheriff Sy, head of the interim parliament, told FRANCE 24 in a telephone interview.

“No one has been released at this point, not even the civilians that have been arrested during the night,” he said, referring to premier Isaac Zida and the two ministers.

France’s ambassador to Burkina Faso, Gilles Thibault, tweeted that he had seen Kafando, who he said was "doing well".

Soldiers from the elite presidential guard on Wednesday burst into a cabinet meeting and seized the four men.

The coup – led by General Gilbert Diendéré, who is close to ousted former leader Blaise Compaoré – triggered violent street protests outside the presidential palace. Three people died from gunshot wounds and at least 60 others were treated for various injuries, according to doctors at the main hospital in the capital Ouagadougou.

The takeover has been met with widespread condemnation from the African Union (AU), the United States, former colonial power France and the United Nations.

The AU suspended Burkina Faso from all activities on Friday and imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on the coup’s leaders.

Mediation

The unrest hit the landlocked West African nation just ahead of presidential and legislative elections scheduled for October 11 – the country's first since veteran leader Compaoré was forced out last year.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall, who is the current chairman of the West African ECOWAS bloc, and Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi arrived in Burkina Faso on Friday to mediate the crisis.

They immediately huddled into a Ouagadougou hotel with Diendéré for talks.

Reporting from Burkina's capital, FRANCE 24’s Arnaud Froger said that the coup leaders “said this morning in a statement that they are open to negotiation".

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 on Thursday, Diendéré said that new elections would be held as soon as possible.

“As soon as all the conditions have come together, we will be ready to return [to civilian rule]. We are not here to stay in power," he said.

Diendéré added that the coup had the support of Burkina Faso’s army and that he had had “no contact” with Compaoré during the takeover despite speculation over the former president’s links to the coup leaders.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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