September 30, 2015 / 3:36 PM / in 3 years

Talks start for surrender of Burkina coup leader: government

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Burkina Faso’s government said on Wednesday it had started negotiations to persuade the leader of a short-lived coup to surrender, a day after he took refuge in the Vatican’s compound in the capital.

Burkina Faso's coup leader General Gilbert Diendere awaits the arrival of Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou at the airport in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 23, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Penney

General Gilbert Diendere fled just before government troops raided barracks held by his forces in Ouagadougou, wiping out the last vestiges of his bid to take over the West African nation.

“Negotiations are under way for his surrender to the authorities,” the government said on state television.

Later, interim President Michel Kafando visited the recaptured barracks to thank the soldiers now in charge of it. He told journalists there were no casualties during the assault.

Diendere’s forces - members of an elite presidential guard unit - raided a cabinet meeting on Sept. 16 and detained Kafando, the prime minister and several cabinet members.

Thousands of people took to the streets of the capital and other cities demanding an end to the rebellion which was condemned by regional and world powers. Troops loyal to the government moved in and ended the coup a week later.

The uprising disrupted a delicate political transition that followed the fall of President Blaise Compaore after 27 years in power.

Kafando had stepped in as an interim leader after a popular uprising toppled Compaore and the country was less than a month away from Oct. 11 elections meant to restore democracy.

Diendere was one of Compaore’s key supporters.

Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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