Thomas Sankara Credit: GIN photo

(GIN) — The military government of Burkina Faso announced this week that the burial of the country’s former president, Thomas Sankara, will take place in a private ceremony next week at the spot where he was assassinated in a coup more than three decades ago.

“The burial of Capt. Sankara and his 12 companions murdered on Oct. 15, 1987, will take place on Thursday, Feb. 23,” said Communications Minister Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo in a published statement.

Sankara’s remains will be reburied at the memorial erected in his honor in front of the Conseil de l’Entente, where he was assassinated .

While the government had announced reburial plans previously, no date had been specified.

The announcement came days after Sankara’s family said they would not attend the burial because they disagreed with the choice of the site.

“How can you bury such a hero in the place where he was murdered?” the family asked In a press release. “We believed and continue to believe that it is fundamental that a space be found that allows us to gather and appease hearts, and not divide [us] and increase resentment.”

The government said the choice of burial site was “mainly based on socio-cultural and security imperatives of national interest.”

After his murder in 1987, ordered by Blaise Compaore and his cronies, Sankara and his comrades were buried in common fields with no names. In 2015, their bodies were exhumed for legal proceedings.

The 13 bodies were exhumed from a cemetery on the outskirts of the capital after Compaore’s downfall. An investigation that followed culminated in the trial of 14 people accused of plotting the assassination of Sankara.

In April 2022, Compaore, who was the main defendant, was handed a life term in absentia.

Nicknamed Africa’s Che Guevara, Sankara was a military officer and socialist revolutionary who served as president from his coup in 1983 until his assassination in 1987. He remains highly regarded among left-wing Africanists for his anti-imperialist stance. 

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