The protests that greeted the military coup in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, are turning violent, with at least 10 deaths reported and several protesters arrested.
Presidential guard, the most powerful armed group in the country, seized power on Wednesday, placing interim President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida in detention, less than a month to scheduled elections.
Former President Blaise Compaore was ousted in 2014 by a widespread protest after 27 years in power amidst allegations that he wanted to amend the constitution to prolong his stay in power.
He has since lived in exile in Ivory Coast.
Speaker of the transitional parliament, Cheriff Sy, has declared himself leader of the West African country and called on Burkinabes to resist the military’s actions, which has installed a close ally of Compaore, Gilbert Diendere, an army General, as leader. He was a former chief of staff to Compaore.
The African Union and ECOWAS have condemned the action of the presidential guard and called for the release of those detained.
The US and France have also raised concerns. However, France has ruled out a military intervention in its former colony. Burkinaso is a close ally of the US and France, particularly with regards to fighting Islamist militancy in the region.
The powerful but unpopular presidential guard was partly trained by the US and it had been in battle with the transitional government since the ouster of Compaore for retention of some of its privileges.
According to analysts, the transitional government might have made some mistakes that led to the coup – the banning of people seen to be close to Compaore from contesting the October 11 elections and releasing a report by the Reconciliation Commission calling for the disbandment of the presidential guard.
The commission was set up to help the country heal from Compaore’s dictatorship.