The leader of a coup in Burkina Faso yesterday said that he was still in charge despite the passing of a deadline set by loyalist soldiers for his forces to surrender or face attack.
General Gilbert Diendere, who seized power last week, said he was ready to negotiate, but awaited the outcome of a Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) summit being held in Nigeria.
“I’m not stalling for time. I’m within the time allotted to me,” he told a news conference. “I am still the president of the National Democratic Council [junta].”
Few people ventured out onto the streets of the capital as the deadline set for 10am passed. Presidential guard forces loyal to Diendere held the presidential palace, but troops opposing the coup held most other strategic points.
Loyalist troops said they were preparing to attack the Camp Naba Koom base near the presidential palace, although a separate loyalist source said talks had restarted and the aim was to avoid violence.
The coup 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 Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore, who held power for 27 years.
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 said.
Ex-spy chief Diendere and his presidential guard rebelled on Wednesday last week, raiding a Cabinet meeting and detaining the president and other ministers.
“They [the presidential guard] have until 10am to lay down their weapons and surrender at the Camp Sangoule Lamizana,” the loyalist officer said, referring to a military barracks west of Ouagadougou.
“The prime minister is free. He has returned to his official residence,” said Lieutenant Boris Nadie, Zida’s aide-de-camp.
Interim Burkinabe 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.
The results of the summit was expected later yesterday.
At issue is a proposal announced on Sunday by ECOWAS mediators for a draft agreement to end the crisis.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications