ADDIS ABABA.- The African Union has suspended Burkina Faso and threatened sanctions on coup leaders. The AU Peace and Security Council, the AU’s decision-making body, “decides to suspend, with immediate effect, the participation of Burkina Faso in all AU activities, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the AU Constitutive Act and of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance,” said a communique from the pan-African bloc late Friday.

The council will impose sanctions on coup leaders if they do not reverse their actions within “96 hours from the adoption of the present communique.” The council strongly condemned the kidnapping and unlawful detention of President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Isaac Zida, as well as some members of the government.

It also strongly condemned the announcement by the military of the “dissolution” of the transitional institutions and the assumption of power by the army. “. . .all the measures taken by those who seized power by force in Burkina Faso are null and void,” said the council.

It stressed that the AU shall “neither recognise nor support any process conducted outside the Transition launched in Burkina Faso in November 2014, and therefore demands a return to the status quo ante.” Soldiers from Burkina Faso’s Presidential Guard disrupted a cabinet meeting on Wednesday and detained Kafando, Zida and other ministers before setting up the National Council for Democracy.

Meanwhile, pro-coup demonstrators in Burkina Faso yesterday invaded a hotel due to host talks aimed at hammering out the details of a deal to restore a civilian interim government and attacked participants arriving for the meeting, witnesses said. Some of the protesters carried signs expressing support for members of the elite presidential guard, which stormed a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, disrupting a transition period due to end with elections on Oct. 11.

On Saturday, Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is leading the mediation talks along with his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall, who is also chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, had hinted at a breakthrough in the negations, saying that a “good decision” would be made on Sunday (yesterday). – Xinhua/France24/AP/Reuters.