- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) - Anti-coup demonstrators burned tires at roadblocks in Burkina Faso’s capital on Saturday as West African mediators continued pursuing a negotiated resolution to the country’s political crisis following the toppling of the transitional government earlier this week.

North of the city center, smoke rose from barricades where crowds chanted slogans denouncing Gen. Gilbert Diendere, who was named leader of Burkina Faso on Thursday after members of the elite Presidential Security Regiment stormed a government meeting and detained the acting president and prime minister. Soldiers from the regiment fired on protests after the coup was announced, killing at least six people, but they had little presence on the streets of Ouagadougou on Saturday, emboldening demonstrators who cried out “Homeland or death!”

Army chief Gen. Pingrenoma Zagre issued a statement Saturday condemning all violence against civilians and urging soldiers to act “with professionalism.” He called on civilians to “trust the armed forces” as they worked to resolve the crisis.

The coup derailed a yearlong transition process that followed the fall of longtime President Blaise Compaore during a popular uprising last October. Elections were supposed to be held Oct. 11, but Diendere, a former top Compaore aide, has said that date is too soon.

Macky Sall, president of Senegal and chairman of the regional ECOWAS body, continued meeting with allies and opponents of the Compaore regime and later met with transitional leader Michel Kafando, who was released from military custody Friday. Sall was joined by Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi.



But on Friday night, after a full day of talks, Sall noted that the camps showed little will to negotiate.

“There is a critical lack of dialogue among actors, and this will negatively affect national unity and cohesion,” Sall warned.

Transition officials have insisted the junta must go.

“The mediators are here to help us find a compromise, but there are things that are non-negotiable,” said transitional lawmaker Jean Hobert Bazie, who joined other lawmakers in calling for the return of Kafando’s government.

The coup has been condemned by former colonial power France, the United States, the United Nations and the African Union, which suspended Burkina Faso Friday.

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Associated Press journalist Ludivine Laniepce contributed to this report from Ouagadougou.

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