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Iconic West African Leader Sankara Reburied in Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso’s late revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara was reburied on Thursday, eight years after his body was exhumed as part of an inquest.

Sankara’s body and the 12 people who died with him were buried at the site of his murder, which has since become a memorial to Sankara, with a life-size statue of the former leader raising his fist in the air.

Soldiers and community leaders paid their respects during Thursday’s ceremony, with some posing for photos next to Sankara’s coffin. All the coffins were covered with the Burkina Faso flag with a picture on the side.

Sankara

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Sankara and the others were shot dead in a coup in the capital Ouagadougou in 1987 and hastily buried. Their exhumation was allowed in 2015 after the overthrow of former President Blaise Compaore.

Sankara, the charismatic Marxist leader known as the “African Che Guevara,” seized power in 1983 at the age of 33 after he and Compaore led a left-wing coup that toppled a moderate military faction. 

But in 1987, Compaoré turned against his former friend in a coup that saw him seize power and rule the country for 30 years.

Last year, Compaoré, who now lives in Ivory Coast, was tried in absentia and found guilty of aiding and abetting the murders. 

A military court in Burkina Faso sentenced him to life imprisonment. Compaoré’s right-hand man, Gilbert Diendere, and former intelligence chief Tuzma Yassin Kafando were also sentenced to life imprisonment.

Iconic West African Leader Sankara Reburied in Burkina Faso

Eight other people were convicted on a range of charges including perjury and complicity in undermining state security.

While Sankara’s family was happy that he was finally buried, they said the burial site was a slap in the face for the horrors that took place there. 

The family asked the government to bury him elsewhere, but were told that since Sankara was a soldier, that was at the discretion of the army.

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