Former president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, on Tuesday rendered an apology to the family of his slain former friend and predecessor, Thomas Sankara, Reuters reported. A revolutionary icon, Sankara was murdered after four years in power in a 1987 coup led by Compaore.
Compaore ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years after succeeding Sankara. The 71-year-old was ultimately removed from power in a 2014 popular uprising following his decision to extend his tenure. He fled to Ivory Coast, where he has since been in exile.
The ex-leader’s apology to Sankara’s family was read exclusively by a spokesman for the Burkinabe government.
“I apologize to the people of Burkina Faso for all the acts I may have committed during my tenure, most particularly to the family of my brother and friend Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara,” Compaore stated in the letter.
“Faced with the dramatic and critical situation that our dear homeland is facing, we have no choice but to silence our differences in order to save our common heritage, Burkina Faso,” he added.
Compaore has always denied involvement in Sankara’s murder. But in April, a military court in Burkina Faso sentenced him to life imprisonment in absentia for the murder of his predecessor.
Earlier this month, however, the ex-leader returned to Burkina Faso for a few days on the invitation of the West African nation’s military leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba. But his visit was widely criticized as many Burkinabes questioned why he was allowed to return as a free man, Reuters reported.
The West African nation has been struggling to contain incessant Islamist insurgencies that have caused considerable displacement. The general state of insecurity in the country was the driving force behind the January military coup that ousted Burkina Faso’s civilian government.