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Burkina Faso: former president Thomas Sankara elevated to the rank of "national hero"

A photo of Thomas Sankara next to his coffin during   -  
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Sophie Garcia/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso's transitional government decided on Wednesday to elevate former president and father of the Burkinabe revolution Thomas Sankara, killed on 15 October 1987 in a putsch, to the rank of "hero of the nation".

"The Council (of Ministers) adopted a decree recognising the late Captain Isidore Thomas Noël Sankara as a hero of the nation", the minutes said, transmitted to AFP.

"The consecration of the status of hero of the nation" to Thomas Sankara "aims to perpetuate the cardinal values on which the Republic is founded", the government explained.

Thomas Sankara, a pan-African icon who came to power in a coup in August 1983, was killed on 15 October 1987 by his number two, Blaise Compaoré.

That day, the Burkinabe president was meeting at the headquarters of his National Revolutionary Council (CNR) when a commando of coup soldiers arrived and shot him and his companions dead.

The status of "hero of the nation" was created in June 2022 to honour people who have distinguished themselves by their "exceptional bravery in the defence of a national cause", or their "exceptional and honourable prowess for the nation".

After Mr Sankara's death, Blaise Compaoré remained in power until a popular uprising led to his downfall in 2014.

In April 2022, after a six-month trial, the military court in Ouagadougou sentenced Mr Compaoré, who lives in Côte d'Ivoire, in absentia to life imprisonment for his role in the assassination of Thomas Sankara. 

First buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, the bodies of Thomas Sankara and his twelve companions were exhumed on 25 May 2015 for the purposes of legal proceedings before being buried in a memorial erected on the very site of their assassinations. 

A "national and international ceremony to pay tribute to the victims will be organised on 15 October 2023 to honour their memory", according to the government.

The transitional president, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, has regularly paid tribute to Thomas Sankara since coming to power in a coup on 30 September 2022.

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