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Burkina coup chief vows to abide by deal, warns will hit back if attacked

Gilbert-DiendereBurkina Faso’s coup leader Gilbert Diendere said Tuesday that he would abide by a deal reached with African mediators, but warned his men would defend themselves if attacked.

“We do not want to fight but ultimately we will defend ourselves,” Diendere said as troops deployed in the capital in a bid to secure a surrender from the junta that has seized control.

Diendere also announced that a member of the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP), the elite army unit behind the coup, had been killed and a second had been injured, but stressed they had not been caught up in a confrontation with regular army troops.

“There has not been a clash but there has been an incident — individuals fired at an RSP checkpoint, causing one death among RSP soldiers and an injury,” Diendere told a press conference, adding that the attack had taken place on the edge of the capital Ouagadougou.

“We have not identified the assailants in this attack, which was repelled… There is no fighting to speak of,” he said.

Diendere agreed Monday to hand over power under a deal reached with the regional ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) group, and vowed to abide by whatever the bloc decided at an emergency summit in Abuja later Tuesday.

“We will apply what the heads of state decide at the ECOWAS level,” Diendere said.

ECOWAS mediators, led by Senegalese President Macky Sall and Benin’s leader Thomas Boni Yayi, have proposed a return of Burkina Faso’s interim president, along with an amnesty for the putschists.

In reference to his own departure, Diendere said: “The date will be determined by ECOWAS, it’s not for us to determine.”

The coup leader said “discussions were underway” with the regular army demanding his surrender, but warned that his own forces would defend themselves if attacked.

“We do not want to shed any blood to stay in power. There is no point in spilling blood or causing massacres.”

Diendere had earlier told AFP the coup leaders were in talks with army chiefs to make the regular troops leave the capital, where they arrived overnight.



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