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Soldiers leave capital, Burkina Faso returns to calm

25 September 2015, 09:19

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso — People lined up at gas stations and money machines in Burkina Faso's capital on Thursday as life began returning to normal after a week-long coup.

Interim President Michel Kafando and interim Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida were reinstalled on Wednesday and government soldiers who had remained loyal to the government withdrew overnight. Members of the presidential guard that staged the coup were confined to their barracks.

People in Ouagadougou went out early Thursday to buy sheep at the market for slaughter in celebration of Eid al-Adha, known here as Tabaski, one of Islam's most important holidays.

During prayers, Muslim leader Aboubakar Sana called for peace and dialogue that will lead to free and fair elections in this West African country. Elections had been scheduled for Oct. 11 before the coup but it is doubtful that date can be met.

Leaders with the Economic Community of West African States suggested a Nov. 22 election date and recommended that allies of former President Blaise Compaore, who was ousted in an uprising last October, be allowed to field candidates. It was members of the presidential guard loyal to Compaore who had mounted the coup, unhappy that the transitional government had barred his supporters from contesting the elections.

Coup leader Gen. Gilbert Diendere expressed his regrets on Wednesday.

"My biggest mistake was carrying out this coup," he said. "We have seen what has happened, that the people were not in favor of it. That is why we gave it up."

He said he regretted that lives were lost and time was wasted.

At least 10 people were killed and 108 injured during demonstrations against the coup.

The U.N. Security Council on Thursday welcomed the reinstatement of Kafando and urged all actors in Burkina Faso to refrain from violence. The council commended ECOWAS and those who exercised restraint, and called for the speedy resumption of the transition including the holding of "free, fair and credible elections."

- AP


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