New Burkina PM vows investigations into Compaore-era deaths


Burkina Faso’s interim prime minister has pledged to open enquiries into the deaths of a revered former president and an investigative journalist — key demands of protesters who swept veteran ruler Blaise Compaore from power last month.

Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Zida, who seized power after Compaore fled and was then named prime minister, also said audits would be carried out at state firms and those suspected of corruption would be held to account.

Compaore fled the West African country last month when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, to protest against his bid to change the constitution to extend his 27-year rule.

Although he won support from Western allies as a key regional power broker in recent years, Compaore left behind a country where many say corruption and impunity hobbled progress despite a growing gold mining industry.
“We must shine a light on everything that went on during Blaise Compaore’s rule. All the pending dossiers will be reopened,” Zida told reporters late on Thursday.

Compaore took office in a 1987 coup in which then-President Thomas Sankara was killed in unexplained circumstances.

Interim authorities have already vowed to exhume a grave thought to contain the remains of Sankara, a revolutionary folk hero in the West African nation.

The 1998 death of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo, who was researching the death of a driver working for Compaore’s brother, also weighed on Compaore’s time in power.

Underlining the importance of Zongo’s legacy, interim culture and tourism minister Adama Sagnon resigned this week after allegations that he had not done enough to investigate the death.

Zida threatened to renationalise any firms that had been privatised at the expense of the population and said people responsible for corruption “must be called to explain themselves”.

Burkina Faso’s new authorities earlier removed General Gilbert Diendere, the most powerful remaining figure from the Compaore era, from his post as head of the presidential guard.

Echoing earlier comments from the interim mining minister, Zida reiterated a pledge to review all Compaore-era mining contracts, adding that permits won through corruption or nepotism would be “cancelled pure and simple”.

Zida, who is also defence minister, heads a transitional government that has one year to lead the country to new elections. A former foreign minister, Michel Kafando, is serving as president until the 2015 polls.