Joe Penney / Reuters

Burkina Faso coup leader says he will hand back power

Decision comes as the military threatens to forcibly disarm the junta

Burkina Faso's coup leader has apologized to the nation and says he will hand over power to a civilian transitional government. It follows a warning from the country's military that forces would converge on the capital and forcibly disarm the soldiers behind last week's power grab. 

Gen. Gilbert Diendere said his presidential guard unit "confirms our commitment to giving power back to civilian authorities." The news brought many out to the streets in celebration. 

That handover was one of the key conditions of a draft agreement that resulted from weekend negotiations with regional mediators, but it had been unclear until Diendere's announcement whether the junta would abide by those terms.

Diendere, who led the presidential guard under longtime leader Blaise Compaore until he was forced from power in a popular uprising last year, said the compromises were necessary to avoid further bloodshed.

The risk of clashes could lead to "chaos, civil war and massive human rights violations," he said.

Diendere said the junta also was allowing for the release of the interim prime minister, Michel Kafando, who had been under house arrest since the coup.

Late Monday, Kafando found refuge inside the French ambassador's residence in the capital late, the ambassador said. 

"I confirm, with the authorization of President Kafando, he is indeed in the French residence," Ambassador Gilles Thibault wrote on his Twitter account.

Earlier Monday, the heads of the National Armed Forces warned that troops would disarm the presidential guard.

While they said soldiers aimed to do so without spilling blood, the ultimatum raised the specter of clashes on the streets of Ouagadougou. 

Regional mediators are pushing for new, more inclusive elections no later than the end of November. 

Al Jazeera and wire services 

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