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Burkina Faso President Back in Power

Anti-coup protesters hold a Burkina Faso flag in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 22, 2015.
Anti-coup protesters hold a Burkina Faso flag in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 22, 2015.

Burkina Faso's interim president Michel Kafando says he is back in power, exactly one week after he was detained by members of the presidential guard who staged a coup.

Kafando told reporters Wednesday that his government has been restored and he is resuming power "this very minute."

Earlier Wednesday, members of the presidential guard agreed to return to their barracks in a deal made after the presidents of Senegal, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria traveled to the capital, Ouagadougou, to negotiate.

Government troops who had streamed into the capital in opposition of the coup leaders have agreed to retreat to 50 kilometers outside the city.

Coup leader General Gilbert Diendere on Tuesday apologized to the country and vowed to hand over power when requested by the leaders meeting in Ouagadougou. Earlier he told VOA that he wants to avoid bloodshed.

Also Tuesday, French Ambassador Gilles Thibault said on Twitter that the interim president held for nearly a week by the coup leader had been freed. He said Kafando was staying at the "French residence."

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has recommended that U.S. citizens in Burkina Faso leave the West African nation, citing an uncertain security situation. It also recommended against travel to the landlocked country.

Ouagadougou has been tense since army troops poured into the capital to negotiate the surrender of the coup leaders. Residents cheered the troops' arrival early Tuesday before they were asked to return to their homes.

A reporter for VOA in Ouagadougou, Emilie Iob, said the streets of the capital emptied out as word spread that the army was coming.

The presidential guard overthrew Burkina Faso's transitional government last Wednesday, less than a month before elections. Diendere said the polls were "biased," because supporters of former president Blaise Compaore were barred from running.

Compaore ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years before being ousted in a popular uprising last year, when he tried to change the constitution to extend his presidency.

Protests against the coup turned violent, killing at least 10 and injuring more than 100.

West African negotiators announced a plan Sunday to restore civilian authority but offer amnesty to the coup leaders. Under the plan, the elections originally set for October 11 would be held sometime before November 22.

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