Former Burkinabe president Blaise Compaoré, sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for the 1987 assassination of pan-Africanist icon Thomas Sankara, has apologised to the ex-leader’s family after years of denial.
In a message read out by government spokesman Lionel Bilgo, Compaoré said “I ask the Burkinabe people for forgiveness for all the acts I may have committed during my tenure, and especially the family of my brother and friend Thomas Sankara.”
Compaoré seized power in the West African nation during October 15, 1987 coup that toppled and killed serving leader Sankara. A fiery Marxist-Leninist who blasted the West for neo-colonialism and hypocrisy, Thomas Sankara was gunned down by a hit squad little more than four years after coming to power as an army captain aged just 33.
A Burkina court handed Blaise compaoré a life term in absentia in April for his role in the assassination.
Having taken the Ivorian citizenship since his ouster in 2014 he was not extradited and has yet to serve his prison sentence.
“I take responsibility for, and regret from the bottom of my heart, all the suffering and tragedies experienced by all victims during my terms as leader of the country and ask their families to grant me their forgiveness,” Compaoré added.
He returned to Burkina Faso for several days early July, without facing arrest, after the country’s military leader Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba invited him in the name of “national reconciliation”.
The visit sparked an outcry among civil society groups and political parties, who said uniting the nation should not come with immunity from punishment.