FILE – In this Wednesday Sept. 23, 2015 file photo, Burkina Faso coup leader Gen. Gilbert Diendere, center, greets people at the airport during the arrival of Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou for talks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso’s army took over the barracks of the presidential guard that carried out a short-lived coup this month, barraging them with gunfire Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 after they refused to disarm, the government said. Gen. Gilbert Diendere, who led the coup earlier this month but handed power back last week, called on his followers to lay down arms. (AP Photo, File)
By BRAHIMA OUEDRAOGO and BABA AHMED, Associated Press
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — The military general who led the short-lived coup in Burkina Faso has sought refuge at the Vatican Embassy, a day after the army opened fire on his supporters in the presidential guard to force them to disarm, a person who works closely with the clergy said Wednesday.
Gen. Gilbert Diendere is sheltering at the Vatican nunciature in Burkina Faso’s capital, according to the person close to the Catholic clergy who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists.
Negotiations are underway for Diendere to give himself up, the government said in a communique.
Diendere told The Associated Press he is willing to surrender to authorities.
“I am willing to turn myself over to face justice,” he said. “I would like the people of Burkina Faso to find a solution to this crisis through dialogue. All parties must talk to find an inclusive solution for the future of the country.”
Diendere on Tuesday called on his followers in the elite presidential guard to put down their arms.
The presidential guard arrested interim President Michel Kafando and interim Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida on Sept. 16. Diendere later took power, but stepped down after pressure from the West African regional bloc, Burkina Faso’s military and demonstrating citizens. The transitional government was reinstalled Sept. 23.
Under a peace deal, the presidential guard was supposed to disarm but they refused. On Tuesday the army used force to take over all the places occupied by the presidential guard.
The government Wednesday said its forces are assessing the victims of its assault. It asked citizens to be tolerant toward former presidential guard soldiers and called for the “strengthening of reconciliation and national unity.”
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