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Burkina Faso's transitional government dissolved in coup d'etat

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is "outraged" over condemned takeover.

By Andrew V. Pestano
Blaise Compaore, former president of Burkina Faso, ruled the West African country for 27 years before stepping down last October. Burkina Faso's Regiment of Presidential Security, which is loyal to Compaore, dissolved the country's transitional government on Thursday and named Compaore's former chief of staff as leader. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Blaise Compaore, former president of Burkina Faso, ruled the West African country for 27 years before stepping down last October. Burkina Faso's Regiment of Presidential Security, which is loyal to Compaore, dissolved the country's transitional government on Thursday and named Compaore's former chief of staff as leader. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Cherif Sy, the speaker of Burkina Faso's transitional parliament, has named himself head of state despite the recent coup d'etat that named another as leader.

The transitional government of Burkina Faso was dissolved on Thursday after an overthrow led by the country's Regiment of Presidential Security one month ahead of general elections.

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Sy has called on the country's regular armed forces to "take all steps to stop this abuse of power."

Presidential guard officers loyal to former President Blaise Compaore, who ruled for 27 years, stormed a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace in Ouagadougou, the capital, on Wednesday and arrested interim President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida.

There are now two men claiming to be the head of state of Burkina Faso. Gen. Gilbert Diendere, who was chief of staff to Campaore, was named the country's new leader by the presidential guard.

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Diendere said Kafando and Zida are in good condition and will be released soon. The general also said he had no contact with Compaore "before or after" the coup.

Shooting was reported in the capital where protesters were demanding the release of the government officials.The Balai Citoyen civil society group said that more than 20 people have been killed.

"We demand that the regular army, the defense forces and security take their historic responsibilities in the face of this armed aggression against the people of Burkina Faso and its institutions," Balai Citoyen said in a statement.

Civil groups are also calling for mass protests, expected to take place in the coming days. The main hospital in Ouagadougou has urged anyone with medical skills to come help treat people with shooting injuries.

Lt. Col. Mamadou Bamba on state television said a new "national democratic council" had taken control of Burkina Faso to end the "deviant regime," adding that "peaceful and inclusive elections" will be held after wide-ranging talks.

Compaore, who is in exile, stepped down in October last year after protesters demanded his resignation. The military took control before the transitional government led by Kafando was appointed.

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Several other government ministers were arrested by the presidential guard, which was led by Compaore during his decades in power.

The Regiment of Presidential Security is considered an elite military unit that will not find the support of the common people of the West African country, BBC News' West Africa correspondent Thomas Fessy reported.

Journalist Joe Penney, who has reported from West Africa for years, said the presidential guard only controls the capital and that the country's army does not seem to be supporting Diendere, adding that Burkinabés are against the coup and that the overthrow may not work.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was "outraged" by the coup d'etat and called for restraint and for the "immediate release" of Kafando and Zida.

"This incident is a flagrant violation of Burkina Faso's constitution and transitional charter," the UN said in a statement. "The United Nations stands firmly behind the transitional authorities and President Kafando."

Burkina Faso, a former French colony whose main export is cotton, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Elections were to be held on Oct. 11.

A commission suggested disbanding the Regiment of Presidential Security two days before the military takeover. Key allies to Campaore were previously barred from contesting the election.

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