Ousted Burkina president 'well,' says party source

Roch Marc Christian Kabore's state and whereabouts have been a key issue since he was overthrown by mutineering soldiers on Monday, with the UN leading calls for his release.

FILE: Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore gives a speech during the 75th-anniversary celebrations of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 12 November 2021. Picture: JULIEN DE ROSA/POOL/AFP

OUAGADOUGOU - Burkina Faso's ousted president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, "is physically well" and is being held by the army in a villa, a source in his party said on Wednesday.

Kabore's state and whereabouts have been a key issue since he was overthrown by mutineering soldiers on Monday, with the UN leading calls for his release.

"President Kabore is physically well, but I cannot say anything about his state of mind," said a source in Kabore's People's Movement for Progress (MPP) party.

Kabore "is still in the hands of the army, not in a military camp, but in a presidential villa under house arrest," the source said.

"He has a doctor available... (and) access to his mobile phone, but under surveillance, obviously," the source said.

Kabore, 64, was elected in 2015 following a popular revolt that forced out strongman Blaise Compaore, who came to power in a putsch in 1987.

He was re-elected in 2020, but the following year faced a wave of anger over a jihadist insurgency that has ravaged the impoverished West African country.

On Sunday, mutinies broke out in several army barracks a day after police broke up banned protests, and on Monday the rebels moved against Kabore.

The former French colony is now in the hands of the Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration (MPSR) - the name of a junta led by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, a regional commander in the jihadist-torn east.

It has announced the suspension of the constitution and dissolution of the government and parliament.

RESIGNATION LETTER

RTB television published on social media a handwritten letter that it said was written by Kabore, purportedly saying that he was stepping down "in the higher interests of the nation".

The source on Wednesday confirmed that the handwriting was genuine, "although I can't say about the conditions in which he wrote it."

The West African bloc Ecowas on Tuesday lashed what it called a "military coup" and said Kabore's resignation had been "obtained under threat, intimidation and pressure from soldiers after two days of mutiny."

The MPP source also gave details about some of the key events on Monday.

As the revolt widened, Kabore was smuggled out of his residence by his bodyguards aboard an unmarked car and taken to a safe location, the source said.

He was not aboard a convoy of vehicles that was found riddled with bullet holes near Kabore's residence as rumours spread of an attempted assassination.

"It was later, as pressure from the mutineers rose, that his guards, who were mainly gendarmes, had to leave him in the hands (of the putschists) and join them," the source said.

"The gendarmerie had no other choice but to join (the putschists) because the whole army was in favour of stripping the president of office."