Thomas Sankara’s revolutionary ideas, inspired by Marxism, were a thorn in the flesh for Western imperialism. The chain of dependency had to be kept intact and Sankara was bent on breaking that link. He was not interested in his country, Burkina Faso, to be a perpetual charity case for the West – a situation in which the West would continuously benefit at the expense of the Burkinabe people.
To thwart Sankara’s ambitions of total economic emancipation (free from the Western economic model that kept extracting from the country through foreign debt), the revolutionary leader had to be deleted from the face of the permanently. It was a cold plan but nonetheless had to be executed. At the bidding of Western powers, a coup led by Blaise Compaore – whom Sankara considered a brother – saw Sankara being heinously assassinated in what became a taboo for people in Burkina Faso. Compaore would go on to be Burkina Faso’s president for 27 years, before being ousted from power in a 2014 popular uprising.
Still believed to be exiled in Cote d’Ivoire, the criminal justice system in Burkina Faso wants Compaore to answer for the crimes he committed 34 years back. The case was referred to a military court in Ouagadougou which charged the ex-president with complicity in the murder of Sankara, harming state security, and complicity in the concealment of the corpses, alongside 13 others. General Gilbert Diendere, Compaore’s former right-hand man and henchman, was also charged with several crimes associated with Sankara’s assassination, including complicity in the assassination. Cote d’Ivoire is sternly refusing to hand over Compaore to Burkina Faso, despite a warrant of arrest having been issued for him in 2015.
For Compaore, power has been like a drug. When the uprising in 2014 forced him to flee the presidential palace in the capital in a tinted car – following GPS coordinates to the south of the border where a helicopter was waiting to take him out of the country – the prospect of returning to Burkina Faso has been a remote possibility. And in this case, the pressure seems to be looming large, and he could possibly be returning to Burkina Faso to face a trial. And that is Cote d’Ivoire agrees to that. The reality of losing power has been depressing for Compaore, whose life in Cote d’Ivoire is largely shielded from the public. But it should not be forgotten that he led the murder of Thomas Sankara and got in power following that coup.
For 27 years, Compaore enjoyed unfettered splendor on the blood of Sankara. And it is now time to face justice. All those who acted alongside him and under his commands should face the impartiality of the law. Why did they accept to do the bidding of Western interests far away from Burkina Faso but determined to impoverish the country for perpetuity?
One of his advisors once said that Compaore is ready to face justice for his actions “as long as it is impartial.” It is hoped that this reality will surely come to pass. He must face justice for what he did. History has not forgotten.