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Burkina-Faso: a coup d’état within a revolution

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After 27 years in power in Burkina Faso, President Blaise Compaoré was suddenly ousted by a popular uprising on 30 October 2014. Having kept himself in power since the riots of 2011 through brutal repression, he swiftly resigned and fled to Côte d’Ivoire.

Compaoré had announced his intention to amend Article 37 of the Basic Law, so that he could run again in 2015 and continue his presidential mandate. As a matter of principle, the African Union condemns the leaders who alter their Constitution in order to renew their eligibility indefinitely and cling to power.

Blaise Compaoré rose to power on 15 October 1987, by overthrowing and assassinating his predecessor, the anti-imperialist Thomas Sankara. The latter was a leader in the Non-Aligned Movement, known for his frugal lifestyle and his defense of the oppressed. The coup was instigated by France, then ruled by a cohabitation government under François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac.

During his 27 years in power, Blaise Compaoré endorsed the neo-colonial operations conducted by France, and sometimes the United States, in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.

With help from France, he was exfiltration and took refuge in fled to Côte d’Ivoire, of which he is a national through marriage. However, he played a key role in the destabilization of Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo (who had turned against the United States) and the legitimizing of his successor, Alessane Ouattara, when he was imposed by the French Forces.

At the time, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, had commented: "Mr. Compaoré, a former soldier, coup leader and political godfather of Charles Taylor, is not the most reliable man to preach democracy and civilian rule."

After President Compaoré’s resignation, the Army Chief of Staff, General Honore Traoré, announced on 31 October that he would steer the political transition over the next twelve months. However, the next day, November 1st, he stepped aside in favor of Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida, under pressure from the United States.

In 2012, Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida Yacouba was trained in counterterrorism at the MacDill Air Force Base (Florida) and underwent military intelligence training provided by the Pentagon in Botswana.

It was also in 2012 that the United States organized a coup in Mali, five weeks before the presidential election despite the fact that the sitting president was not do to run. Captain Amadou Sanogo, who, as Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Yacouba Zida, had received US military training, soon ceded his position to a candidate in the presidential election which was finally never held. The new president Dioncounda Traoré was legitimized by his Ivorian counterpart Alessane Ouattara, ... then he called for a French military intervention in his country.

While US law requires that sanctions be imposed on any government arising from a military coup, the US State Department welcomed the coming to power of Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Yacouba Zida and asked to set up a civilian government at the earliest.

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