Mediators in Burkina Faso’s political crisis proposed new and more inclusive elections in November, though the military that seized power in a coup last week indicated Sunday it still wanted its general to lead the country during any transitional period.
That could prove to be the serious sticking point in a draft agreement released late Sunday following two days of talks led by the presidents of Senegal and Benin. The proposed plan will be taken up Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria, by West African member states of the regional bloc known as ECOWAS.
Senegalese President Macky Sall, who helped lead the weekend talks, said the draft was the result of discussions with all parties. “We have two ways out here: The first one is through peace … that will lead to an end of the crisis through fair and democratic elections,” Sall said, adding that the other route would lead to “chaos.”
The turmoil began Wednesday when the military arrested Burkina Faso’s interim president and prime minister and then installed a military general as head of state a day later. The power-grab less than a month before national elections prompted the African Union to suspend Burkina Faso, and prompted condemnation from the international community.
Mediators had expressed optimism about their progress over the weekend but on Sunday a junta representative said the coup leaders still wanted General Gilbert Diendere to remain in charge, a caveat unlikely to be accepted by other countries. Diendere was not in the room when the draft agreement was read.
Earlier in the day, angry protesters had clashed outside the hotel where the negotiations were taking place, with some shouting: “No to Diendere! No to military rule!” Others vowed their support for the new regime.
The draft agreement released by mediators late Sunday calls for the return of ousted interim president Michel Kafando, until elections no later than November 22. A vote had been scheduled for October 11, but the military general said after the coup that he thought that date was too soon to organize a proper election.
In a concession to the coup leaders, mediators said the plan would allow allies of ex-President Blaise Compaore to take part. The coup leader, who is a longtime close associate of the longtime president, had cited the electoral code prohibiting former ruling party members from running was one of the main reasons for the power grab.
At least 10 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in the crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations in recent days, a worker at the Yalgado Ouedraogo Hospital in Ouagadougou said Saturday. The worker spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.
Protesters in Burkina Faso late last year forced Compaore from office after 27 years in power after he tried to amend the constitution to prolong his rule.