In Ouagadougou, the meeting between the president of the transition, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba and his predecessors, former heads of state of Burkina Faso was held on Friday in a format marked by the absence of three former heads of state out of the five invited. Yet it was announced as a “high-level” meeting and aimed at a strong fight against terrorism in the Land of the Upright. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré had been particularly prevented by his supporters who had mobilised in large numbers at his home very early in the morning.
Invited to the meeting were Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo (1982-1983), Blaise Compaoré, president from (1987 to 2014), Isaac Zida, who briefly took power in 2014 and is currently in exile in Canada, Michel Kafando (2014-2015) and Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who was elected in 2015 before being toppled in January 2022. Unfortunately, only two of the five former presidents of Burkina Faso attended the meeting on Friday. They are Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo and Blaise Compaoré. Of course, the objective of the meeting was to accelerate the process of national reconciliation, in order to find a solution to stem the jihadist violence that has plagued Burkina since 2015.
“This meeting focused mainly on the search for lasting peace in our country,” said Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, initiator of the meeting, at the end of the proceedings on Friday. He added: “We are convinced that only in social cohesion and unity will the forces currently fighting terrorism be more determined and successful.
In the afternoon of Friday, the two former heads of state who responded favourably to the call of their successor declared: “When armed violence pushes nearly two million of our compatriots to flee their homes to find refuge elsewhere in the country, when terrorists kill and plunder our compatriots with impunity, and when the survivors are still largely dependent on humanitarian assistance, reclaiming the occupied territories and restoring the authority of the State is the absolute emergency.
Bordering Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso has been the scene of frequent jihadist attacks since 2015. This phenomenon is growing. “We recently learned that more than half of our territory is out of control: it’s frightening, it’s dramatic,” said the two former presidents present before adding: “It is thanks to the overcoming of political, generational, ethnic, religious and other traditional divides that we will succeed in rebuilding the foundations of the country together in a patriotic surge.
Moreover, President Christian Kaboré was unable to participate in this meeting between heads of state. This is because demonstrators gathered at his home to prevent him from going there. “This morning, preparing for the meeting, I found myself in the situation where in front of the door, there were people demanding me not to go to this meeting. In view of the numbers, the CRS came to see to what extent I could go. But I considered that we were already in a lot of discussions and that using force in this matter would not solve things. That’s why I didn’t take part in the meeting,” he said in a press conference he held at home after the meeting. The defeated president further stated that “the initiative is basically commendable”.
The demonstrators strongly emphasised: “Kaboré is not moving”. They were expressing their dissatisfaction with the return of Blaise Compaoré, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the trial of his predecessor Thomas Sankara. People demand that he should be immediately arrested and taken to prison.
Apart from President Kaboré, Isaac Zida and Michel Kafando did not also respond positively to the call of the transition president.