Military in Burkina Faso confirms coup, dissolves government

Burkina Faso Presidential Guard Seizes President

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — While gunfire rang out in the streets, Burkina Faso's military took to the airwaves Thursday to declare it now controls the West African country, confirming that a coup has taken place just weeks before elections.

The announcement broadcast on national television and radio was read by an army lieutenant colonel wearing a camouflage uniform and cap who sat in front of a blue background. The statement said the country's transitional government had been dissolved and the interim president was no longer in power.

The coup leaders, who come from an elite presidential guard unit that had disagreed publicly with the transitional government in recent months, identified themselves as the National Council for Democracy.

Their public statement confirmed what many suspected Wednesday when the transitional president and prime minister were arrested and barricades were erected around the presidency.

Hours later, the coup leaders announced that a military general and former aide to the former longtime president now leads Burkina Faso. Gen. Gilbert Diendere had been head of the elite presidential guard until President Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising that was sparked by his bid to prolong his rule.

See the unrest in Burkina Faso:

Burkina Faso confirms coup, dissolves government
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Military in Burkina Faso confirms coup, dissolves government
A picture taken on September 17, 2015 shows a TV screen during the broadcast of the speech of Lieutenant-colonel Mamadou Bamba announcing that a new 'National Democratic Council' had put an end 'to the deviant regime of transition' in the west African state and Burkina's interim president had been stripped of his powers. Burkina Faso's presidential guard on September 16, 2015 detained the interim president and prime minister, plunging the west African country into uncertainty just weeks before the first elections since the ouster of ex-leader Blaise Compaore. AFP PHOTO/ ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents burn tires along a street in Ouagadougou on September 17, 2015, after Burkina Faso's presidential guard declared a coup, a day after seizing the interim president and senior government members, as the country geared up for its first elections since the overthrow of longtime leader Blaise Compaore. AFP PHOTO / AHMED OUOBA (Photo credit should read AHMED OUOBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Burkina Fasos musician and member of Burkina Fasos Le Balai Citoyen movement (Citizens Broom), Serge Martin Bambara also know as Smokey (C) takes part in a gathering at the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou on September 16, 2015, few hours after Burkina Faso's interim President and Prime Minister were detained at the presidential palace by guards loyal to ousted leader Blaise Compaore, the speaker of parliament said on September 16. Members of Compaore's Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) 'burst into the cabinet room at 2:30 pm and kidnapped the president of Burkina Faso Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida, and two ministers (Augustin Loada and Rene Bagoro),' interim parliament speaker Cheriff Sy said today. AFP PHOTO / AHMED OUOBA (Photo credit should read AHMED OUOBA/AFP/Getty Images)

The communique also said that the land and air borders were now closed, and that a curfew would be in effect from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The international community swiftly condemned the coup, which violated the country's constitution. The United States said it is "deeply concerned" about the events unfolding.

"The United States strongly condemns any attempt to seize power through extra-constitutional means or resolve internal political disagreements using force," said a statement issued by State Department spokesman John Kirby.

The early morning communique read by Lt. Col. Mamadou Bamba criticized the electoral code, which blocked members of the ex-president's party from taking part in the Oct. 11 elections. Anyone who supported the ex-president's bid to amend the constitution so he could seek another term is also banned from running.

Bamba on Thursday announced the beginning of a "coherent, fair and equitable process" that would lead to inclusive elections.

The transitional government came to power after Compaore, the president of 27 years, was ousted late last year in a public uprising. Demonstrators at one point had set fire to the parliament building to protest his move to amend the constitution so he could prolong his rule.

Burkina Faso hosts French special forces and serves as an important ally of both France and the United States in the fight against Islamic militants in West Africa. While Burkina Faso has largely been spared from extremist violence, a Romanian national was abducted in April, and a Mali-based jihadi group claimed responsibility.

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