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Presidential Guard Arrests Interim Leader, Announces Takeover Of Burkina Faso

A photo of a TV screen shows the national broadcast in which Lieutenant Colonel Mamadou Bamba announced that the "National Democratic Council" is now in charge of Burkina Faso.

Weeks before a scheduled national election to choose a new government, soldiers of Burkina Faso's presidential guard say they've taken over the country. The announcement comes after members of the military arrested the interim president Wednesday.

The coup in the West African nation comes just days after a commission recommended disbanding the elite Presidential Security Regiment, which has publicly clashed with the transitional government and which is also accused of killing demonstrators during last year's anti-government rallies.

Now, the transitional government has been dissolved, the military unit said in a TV address by Lieutenant Colonel Mamadou Bamba, who said they had put an end to "the deviant regime of transition."

From Accra, NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports:

"Ten months after a popular uprising ousted Burkina Faso's president, it appears that soldiers loyal to Blaise Compaore have staged a counter-coup. This comes less than a month before planned elections and the end of a shaky year-long political transition.

"This is the first public declaration since soldiers seized interim President Michel Kafando and the prime minister, himself a soldier, at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The move was condemned by the UN chief."

The group that seized power, calling itself the National Council for Democracy, says it will be led by Gen. Gilbert Diendere, which Agence France-Presse identifies as Compaore's former chief-of-staff.

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