Blaise Compaoré, former Burkinabe president in exile in Ivory Coast since his fall in 2014, set foot on Burkinabe soil in the afternoon of Thursday, July 7. He returned on the initiative of the ruling junta to attend a meeting of former heads of state. The meeting, which aims to re-launch the reconciliation process in the country, is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday.
Ancien chef d’Etat burkinabè, Blaise Compaoré a été renversé en 2014 par une insurrection populaire. He was forced into exile in Ivory Coast in October 2014, in the aftermath of violent popular riots and under pressure from the army and the opposition, which opposed his desire to remain in power.
Eight years later, he is back in his homeland. According to information published by RFI, the plane carrying the former president landed in the middle of the afternoon at the air base at Ouagadougou airport. A helicopter then arrived to take the former head of state directly to his home in the Ouaga 2000 district.
Earlier, yesterday, Wednesday 6 July, the Burkinabe government spokesman, Lionel Bilgo, announced that “by the end of the week, an important meeting between the former heads of state of Burkina Faso will be organised with the aim of accelerating the issue of reconciliation. The same source added that the arrival of Blaise Compaoré was “very likely and even expected”.
On the other side of Abidjan, the spokesman for the Ivorian government, Amadou Coulibaly, confirms that contacts have been made with Ivory Coast to consider a return of the former head of state to his country. “Burkina Faso has embarked on a process of reconciliation (…) all measures are being taken to ensure that President Compaoré participates actively in this process,” he said.
Life imprisonment in the Sankara case
If the return of the former head of state is so controversial, it is also because he is not on good terms with his country’s justice system. En effet, le 6 avril dernier, Blaise Compaoré a été condamné par contumace à la prison à perpétuité à l’issue d’un procès de six mois devant le tribunal militaire de Ouagadougou. He is accused by the court of having played a role in the assassination of his predecessor Thomas Sankara during a coup d’état that brought him to power in 1987. As a result, for the lawyers of the Thomas Sankara case, in which Blaise Compaoré received a life sentence, this is an opportunity for him to be brought to justice.
The reconciliation process in Burkina Faso
The reconciliation process initiated by the Burkinabe authorities takes place in a context of several major events: the coup d’état of 24 January which overthrew Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and propelled Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba to the presidential palace, the fight against terrorism, the situation with ECOWAS, etc. This crucial meeting therefore aims to find a way out of the crisis in which Burkina Faso has become mired. Terrorist attacks have become frequent in the country, resulting in death and displacement.
Moreover, it should be noted that in 27 years of rule, Blaise Compaoré has managed to protect his country from jihadist attacks. According to experts, Lieutenant Damida, the head of the ruling military junta, is seeking to create a “sacred union” around him to help him in the fight against jihadist groups, which have been bloodying Burkina Faso since 2015. For the time being, Blaise Compaoré’s return to the country is not definitive. According to RFI, he will return to Abidjan on Sunday at the latest.