Blaise Compaore, the former leader of Burkina Faso, has expressed regret to the Sankara family after being implicated in the 1987 murder of his predecessor Thomas Sankara.
Compaore was given a life sentence for the murder that took place during the coup that put him in power by a military court in absentia in April. After 27 years in power, he fled to Ivory Coast in the midst of a revolution in 2014.
He participated in a summit of past presidents convened by the governing military junta earlier this month while temporarily returning from exile despite his sentence. The fact that he had returned as a free man infuriated a lot of Burkinabes.
Compaore did not explicitly accept blame for Sankara’s assassination in the letter, which was read out by a Burkinabe government spokeswoman on Tuesday. Compaore has consistently denied any role in Sankara’s murder.
“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,” the letter said.
“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,” it said.
Extremists’ escalating insurgency in the nation has forced nearly 2 million people to flee their homes.
A military coup in January came after frustration with the government’s inability to put an end to seven years of unrest.
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