(Reuters) – The elite soldiers behind a coup in Burkina Faso defied an ultimatum on Tuesday to surrender to regular troops loyal to the government, leading to a stand-off in the capital as they awaited a mediation mission by regional presidents.
Loyalist forces marched into Ouagadougou overnight saying they would disarm the 1,200-strong presidential guard, whose putsch just weeks before an Oct. 11 poll threatens to derail a transition back to democracy after last year’s overthrow of longtime leader Blaise Compaore.
But as a 10 a.m. deadline to surrender passed, coup leader General Gilbert Diendere stood firm, saying he remained head of the junta and would await West African regional leaders’ mediation efforts.
“I’m not stalling for time. I’m within the time allotted to me,” he told a news conference. “We don’t want to fight. We will defend ourselves if need be, but we do not want to spill blood to stay in power.”