Burkina Faso president resigns on condition military coup leader guarantees his safety

President Paul-Henri Damiba led a coup earlier this year against a civilian government that lost support over rising violence by Islamist extremists. He has now been ousted by the same armed forces that helped him gain power.

Burkina Faso’s self-declared military leader Captain Ibrahim Traore has accepted a conditional resignation offered by President Paul-Henri Damiba to avoid further violence after Friday’s coup, religious and traditional leaders said on Sunday.

According to the deal, announced at a press conference, Traore had agreed to seven conditions, including a guarantee of Damiba’s safety and the security of soldiers who had backed him.

He also agreed to honor promises made to the West Africa regional bloc to return Burkina Faso to constitutional rule by July 2024.

Damiba could not be reached for comment. A close family member told Reuters he left the country on Sunday.

Traore said earlier that order was being restored after violent protests against the French embassy and days of fighting as his faction moved to topple the government.

Splits have emerged within the army, with many soldiers appearing to seek Russian support, as the influence of former colonial power France wanes.

At least three separate videos shared on online on Saturday and Sunday showed soldiers atop armored personnel carriers, waving Russian flags, while the crowd around chanted “Russia! Russia!”. Reuters has not verified the videos.

Traore’s team urged people to halt attacks on the French embassy, targeted by protesters after an officer said France had sheltered Damiba at a French military base in the West African country and that he was planning a counter-offensive.

The French foreign ministry denied the base had hosted Damiba after his ouster on Friday. Damiba also denied he was at the base, saying the reports were a deliberate manipulation of public opinion.

“We want to inform the population that the situation is under control and order is being restored,” an army officer said in a statement broadcast on national television.

Another statement said Traore would continue to act as president until a transitional civilian or military president is designated in the coming weeks.

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