Military sources: Burkina Faso presidential guard detains cabinet

The soldiers are said to be calling for the resignation of President Kafando.

FILE: Members of Burkina Faso’s interim parliament on 16 July 2015, in Ouagadougou as they vote on a resolution asking the High Court to put deposed leader Blaise Compaore on trial for high treason and violating the constitution. Picture: AFP.

OUAGADOUGOU - Soldiers from Burkina Faso's powerful presidential guard interrupted a cabinet meeting on Wednesday and detained the ministers, the prime minister and interim President Michel Kafando, military sources said.

The move came two days after a commission charged with drafting reforms for Burkina Faso's transitional government proposed dismantling the elite unit.

The presidential guard, known as the RSP, was a key pillar of President Blaise Compaore's regime before he was toppled by demonstrations in October after 27 years in power.

"It is the whole of the government, including the prime minister and the president, taken by a group of soldiers from the presidential guard," said one senior military source.

"They have not asked for anything for the time being."

Journalists from state television, who had gone to film the cabinet meeting, confirmed that the cabinet had been detained by soldiers.

Civil society activist Souleymane Ouedraogo said on his Facebook page that the soldiers were demanding the resignation of President Kafando. It was not possible to confirm this.

from a field dominated by former members of Compaore's regime.

In a report submitted to Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, himself a former commander in the presidential guard, the national reconciliation and reform commission described the 1,200-strong unit as "an army within an army".

The RSP's political meddling after Compaore's ousting, including attempts to force the prime minister's resignation over his plans to reduce its size, provoked further protests and prompted authorities to call for a review of the guard's role.

Monday's report recommended that the regiment be broken up and its members redeployed within the framework of a broader reform of the military.