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Burkina Faso military frees interim president after coup

Published 18/09/2015

Protests on the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. (AP)
Protests on the streets of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. (AP)

Burkina Faso's military has released the country's interim president after he was detained during a coup that dissolved his government.

The junta released a statement saying Michel Kafando had been freed from military custody. It came after international condemnation of the coup and demands for his release.

Mr Kafando, a former UN ambassador, was chosen as an interim civilian leader after long-time president Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising last October.

His government had organised national elections for October 11 but members of the military loyal to Mr Compaore took power and arrested Mr Kafando on Wednesday.

Interim prime minister Isaac Zida was also detained and remains under house arrest.

The junta later announced that Gilbert Diendere, a military general loyal to Mr Compaore, is now in charge.

Gen Diendere said he had met members of the international community to establish dialogue and seek a long-term solution to the country's political crisis.

US national security adviser Susan Rice said Washington would "review our foreign assistance to Burkina Faso in light of evolving events".

"We are deeply disappointed that the self-interested actions of a few are threatening the historic opportunity that the people of Burkina Faso have to cast their ballots and build a new future for the country," Ms Rice said in a statement.

Burkina Faso hosts French special forces and is an important ally of France and the US in the fight against Islamic militants in west Africa.

The coup sparked protests in the streets of the capital, and several people were killed as the presidential guard opened fire with live ammunition, witnesses said.

While protesters were thwarted in the capital of Ouagadougou, unrest flared in other regions where some burned the homes of Compaore associates.

The country's airport and land borders were reopened a day after they were closed by the new military rulers.

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