Burkina junta leader Damiba agrees to step down: religious mediators
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Burkina Faso's junta leader Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba agreed to step down Sunday, two days after military officers announced he had been removed from power, religious and community leaders said.
Following mediation between Damiba and the new self-proclaimed leader, Ibrahim Traore, "Damiba himself offered his resignation in order to avoid confrontations with serious human and material consequences", the religious and community leaders said in a statement.
They added that Damiba had set "seven conditions" for stepping down, including a guarantee of security for his allies in the military, "a guarantee of his security and rights" and that those taking power must respect the guarantee he had given to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for a return to civilian rule within two years.
The religious and community leaders -- who are very influential in Burkina Faso -- said that Traore accepted the conditions and "invites the population to exercise calm, restraint and prayer".
Since the announcement on Friday that army officers had removed Damiba -- who himself came to power in a coup in January -- tension has been high in the landlocked West African country.
Damiba had previously made clear that he had no intention of stepping down.
Security forces fired tear gas to disperse angry protesters outside the French embassy in Burkina Faso's capital earlier Sunday.
A statement issued on Sunday by the pro-Traore military said he would remain in charge "until the swearing in of the president of Burkina Faso designated by the nation's active forces", at an unspecified date.