Thomas Sankara's close ally Blaise Compaore on trial with 13 others for his assassination

11 October 2021 - 13:33 By TimesLIVE
Having started his presidential tenure at 33, Thomas Sankara renamed the country from Upper Volta to its current Burkina Faso, which means 'land of upright men'.
Having started his presidential tenure at 33, Thomas Sankara renamed the country from Upper Volta to its current Burkina Faso, which means 'land of upright men'.
Image: SUPPLIED

Former Burkina Faso president and Thomas Sankara's friend and close ally, Blaise Compaore, is on Monday on trial for the assassination of Sankara.

Compaore is standing trial with 13 others for the murder which took place 34 years ago.

The man who championed Pan-Africanism and was compassionately referred to as Africa's Che Guevara in his country, was gunned down in October 1987 during a violent putsch. 

The coup d'état saw Compaore rise to the helm and become Burkina Faso's president for 27 years. 

According to reports by Al Jazeera, Compaore was also ousted during an uprising, leading him to flee to neighbouring Ivory Coast, where he was granted citizenship.

Former presidential security regiment leader Gilbert Diendere, who was close friends with Compaore, stands accused of complicity in murder, harming state security and complicity in the concealment of corpses.

Diendere, 61, is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for being the mastermind behind a 2015 plot against the transitional government that saw the removal of Compaore as president.

Compaore has always denied orchestrating Sankara's assassination and will be tried in absentia by the military court in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou.

It was reported last week that the former statesman would not attend what his lawyers termed a “political trial” riddled with irregularities, arguing that he still enjoyed immunity as the country's former leader.

To this day, Sankara remains revered in his country. Having started his presidential tenure at the age of 33, he renamed the country from Upper Volta to its current Burkina Faso, which means “land of upright men”.

He went on to champion various socioeconomic issues in the country, starting with cutting the salaries of all public servants, which included his own. He discontinued the use of government chauffeurs and first-class airline tickets.

Sankara also redistributed land from the feudal landlords and gave it to the destitute. Burkina Faso's wheat production rose in three years from 1,700kg per hectare to 3,800kg per hectare, guaranteeing the food security of the country.

He was an accomplished guitarist and wrote the country's national anthem himself.

Burkina Faso's literacy rate was at a low 13% in 1983 and as president he increased it to 73% in 1987. When he saw the depletion of trees, he mobilised the planting of trees, as more than 10-million trees were planted to prevent desertification

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