West African leaders and their military chiefs are to travel to Burkina Faso to reinstate the country’s interim leadership amid a standoff in the capital between an elite presidential guard behind a coup and the army.
An emergency meeting of the Economic Community of West African States held in Abuja, Nigeria, decided that the leaders of Nigeria, Benin, the Niger Republic, Toga, Ghana and Senegal would travel to Burkina Faso with their military chiefs on Wednesday.
In a statement, ECOWAS said it planned to reinstate and demonstrate solidarity with the interim president, Michel Kafando, who was kidnapped last Wednesday along with his interim prime minister, Yacouba Isaac, Zida. Kafando was released on Friday
The release of Zida on Tuesday, an apparent olive branch, came hours after army soldiers entered Ouagadougou without resistance. ECOWAS also called for calm and said an inclusive democratic process was important going forward.
The announcement came as the leader of the coup, General Gilbert Diendere, on Tuesday said he would abide by a deal reached with the mediators, but warned his men would defend themselves if attacked after the army entered the capital.
Diendere on Tuesday called for troops who entered Ouagadougou seeking a surrender by his elite army unit to leave the city, the AFP news agency reported.
“We do not want to fight but ultimately we will defend ourselves,” Diendere warned, nearly a week after his men detained the interim leaders who had been running the country since a popular uprising deposed long-term president Blaise Compaore last October.