A general behind a failed military coup aimed at overthrowing Burkina Faso's interim president has been charged with crimes including "murder" and "attacking state security". The coup had attempted to change the course of the upcoming election.
In September, General Gilbert Diendere led a military coup. It was carried out by presidential guard known as Régiment de Sécurité Présidentielle (RSP) loyal to Burkina Faso's previous long-time leader Blaise Compaore.
Compaore stepped down in 2014 following violent protests over his decision to participate in 2015's presidential election after 27 years in power. The former leader fled to the Ivory Coast, while the RSP − which he had installed during his leadership − remained in power and tried to oust interim president Michel Kafando weeks before the election, originally scheduled for October, was due to be held.
Following violent protests that resulted in the deaths of at least 10 people and negotiations chaired by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), Kafando was reinstated as interim leader, while Diendere had his assets frozen and the RSP were disbanded.
Population: 16.9 million
Official language: French
Main religions: Islam, Christianity, Animism
Largest cities: Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso,
Koudougou, Ouahigouya, Banfora
Currency: West African Franc
Diendere, a former ally of Compaore, sought sanctuary at the residence of the Vatican's ambassador following the failure of the coup. He then gave himself up to the Burkinabe authorities and said he was willing to face justice.
The general, together with former foreign minister Djibrill Bassole, was also charged with "collusion with foreign forces to destabilise internal security," "causing intentional injury" and "intentional destruction of property", AFP reported. The pair were remanded in custody. Bassole denied any involvement in the putsch.
Two politicians − Elsewhere Leonce Kone, from Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) party and Hermann Yameogo from the National Union for Democracy and Development (UNDD) − were also taken into custody.
It is believed the coup was carried out after a commission suggested the RSP be disbanded amid allegations it had fired on unarmed protesters during 2014 protests. RSP also said it was unhappy with the ban on candidates who were close to Compaore in the forthcoming election. Rumours also spread that Compaore was behind the coup and the RSP tried to bring the former leader back to power.
On 5 October UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon met Kafando – who was reinstated as interim leader after the coup ended – to discuss the situation in the country. Ban stressed the urgency to find a new date for "peaceful and credible presidential and legislative elections", in which people loyal to Compaore can also participate.