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Burkina Faso Official Will Ask Morocco to Extradite Former President

Interim Prime Minister Isaac Zida vowed to extradite ousted leader Blaise Compaoré and investigate abuses committed during his 27-year reign.

by Virgile Dall’Armellina
Nov 28 2014, 10:25pm

image via Flickr

After leading a successful coup, Burkina Faso's interim prime minister, Isaac Zida, announced plans on Thursday to extradite the country's former President Blaise Compaoré who was ousted in October. 

Zida said he would "shine a light on everything that happened during Blaise Compaoré's rule," telling reporters that the government would be seeking former president Compaoré's extradition from Morocco.

On November 17, career diplomat Michel Kafando was named the head of Burkina Faso's transitional government, succeeding Zida, who had claimed the leadership role following October's bloody protests. Kafando appointed the military strongman as interim prime minister, ensuring he retains a key position within government.

The country's 90-member interim parliament — known as the national transitional council — held its first session on Thursday. According to Le Monde, the chamber includes representatives from the army, civil society, the opposition and the former government. Journalist Cherif Sy, an outspoken critic of Compaoré, was elected to preside over the assembly, which will have legislative power.

Mystery Deepens Over How Much France Helped Ousted President Flee Burkina Faso. Read more here.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Prime Minister Zida declared he would reopen two unsolved cases from the Compaoré era.

The first is the case of Thomas Sankara, a pan-African revolutionary who presided over Burkina Faso from 1983 until he was assassinated in 1987. Prior to 1984, Burkina Faso was known as Upper Volta, before Sankara renamed it 'the land of people of integrity.' Nicknamed the African Che, Sankara was overthrown and assassinated on October 15, 1987, in a coup d'état led by Blaise Compaoré. His remains were buried in the Dagnoën cemetery, located in the capital city Ouagadougou, and a death certificate was issued, falsely stating he had died of 'natural causes.' Zida said that Sankara's remains would be exhumed, in order to be formerly identified.

Zida has also vowed to investigate the death of Norbert Zongo, a journalist who was assassinated in 1998, after he began investigating the murder of a driver who had worked for President Compaoré's brother. All charges following the initial trial were dropped, and Zongo's alleged murderers were allowed to go free.

The call for Compaoré's extradition comes only one day after the firing of General Gilbert Diendéré from his post as head of the presidential guard. According to Jeune Afrique, the decision to dismiss Diendéré came from the interim president himself. Diendéré has known ties to prime minister Zida, who also served in the presidential guard. Speaking to VICE News, Diendéré declined to comment on the reasons behind his dismissal, but confirmed having supported colonel Zida's rise to power.

'People Don't Trust Him': Uncertainty Surrounds Colonel in Control of Burkina Faso. Read more here.

Compaoré, who is now officially a fugitive, has found refuge in Morocco. On Thursday, French President François Hollande spoke of France's role in Compaoré's flight from Burkina Faso, saying that, "France had sought to avoid a bloodbath." Following the violent clashes in October, France had whisked Compaoré away from the violence in a French army helicopter to neighboring Ivory Coast.

It is unclear whether or not Morocco will heed Burkina Faso's call for extradition. Speaking on Thursday, Zida acknowledged that his country does not have any extradition treaty with the North African kingdom. According to African news site koaci.com, Compaoré is currently residing in "a palace in Marrakech." An article published on Wednesday in Moroccan weekly Telquel reported that the Unified Socialist party of Morocco has backed Burkina Faso's demand for extradition.

When contacted by VICE News, the Moroccan prime minister's cabinet declined to comment.

Follow Virgile Dall'Armellina on Twitter : @armellina

Image via Flickr