Thomas Sankara is popularly known as the ‘Che Guevara’ of Africa. He is a leader that Burkinabes will not forget in a hurry; only 33 years old when he took the seat of President of Burkina Faso, he served for just 4 years before he was murdered in a coup.
Sankara’s killing led to his second-in-command, Blaise Compaore, seizing power in a coup. Late last year, Blaise Compaore was charged with the murder of the late great African leader but now, according to a lawyer for Thomas Sankara’s family, Burkina Faso is asking France to declassify military documents about the killing of the ex-president.
After the death of his predecessor, Blaise Compaore had steered Burkina Faso into a strong alliance with France, which retains close political, security and economic ties with many of its former colonies in Africa. He has repeatedly denied having any hand in Sankara’s killing but he has refused to return from his exile in Ivory Coast to stand trial.
A judge has requested the declassification because attempts to go through political channels have failed. France has not yet issued any comment on the request.
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The Sankara widow and the ex-president’s supporters have formerly accused France of masterminding his 1987 killing because he was a Marxist revolutionary. Sankara had died when he got caught in a hail of bullets shortly before a meeting of his cabinet in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou.
The country had opened an investigation into Sankara’s killing in 2014 when Blais Compaore had been ousted. The family lawyer, Benewende Stanislas Sankara, was speaking at a press conference in Ouagadougou and said that an investigating judge had formally asked French authorities to declassify military documents to see whether France had played a role in the assassination.
Benewende Stanislas Sankara also said that a request had been made to interview French officials who were involved in Burkina Faso’s affairs at the time.