Burkina Faso\’s military said on Thursday it had stripped interim President Michel Kafando of his functions and dissolved the government, seizing power in a coup less than a month before elections meant to restore democracy in the West African country.
Burkina Faso was plunged into chaos on Wednesday when the elite Republican Guard — a pillar of long-time former President Blaise Compaore\’s regime — seized Kafando, Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, and two ministers.
The powerful presidential guard has repeatedly meddled in politics since Compaore was toppled in a popular uprising in October last year.
"The patriotic forces, grouped together in the National Council for Democracy, have decided today to put an end to the deviant transitional regime," the military official said on RTB state television.
"The transition has progressively distanced itself from the objectives of refounding our democracy," he said, adding that a revision of the electoral law that blocked supporters of Compaore from running in the planned Oct. 11 had "created divisions and frustrations amongst the people."
The apparent military coup — which had raised condemnation from the United Nations, the U.S. government and former colonial power France — quashed hopes of a smooth transition in Burkina Faso, which became a beacon for democratic aspirations in Africa after protesters ousted Compaore.
Hundreds of people had taken to the streets of Ouagadougou late on Wednesday to protest against the seizure of Kafando and the prime minister.
On Thursday, soldiers fired warning shots to disperse a crowd of more than 100 people gathered in the central Independence Square to protest against the presidential guard, a Reuters witness said.
Sporadic gunfire continued to ring out from other areas of the capital early on Thursday morning.