President of Burkina Faso
Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso
Blaise Compaoré (born February 3, 1951) has been the president of Burkina Faso since 1987. He is the founder of the ruling political party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress.
Compaoré was born in Ziniaré, 34 km from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, named at that time Upper Volta. He reached the rank of Captain in the Voltaïc army, and served as Minister of Justice during Thomas Sankara’s presidency. Compaoré met Sankara in 1976 in a military training center in Morocco, and since then Compaoré and Sankara were supposed to be close friends. Compaoré played a major role in the coups d’état against Saye Zerbo and Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo.
He has been married to Chantal Compaoré (née Chantal Terrasson) since 1985.
He became president of his country on October 15, 1987 in a bloody coup that killed Sankara, his predecessor as president. Compaoré described the killing of Sankara as an “accident”, however this claim is widely disputed. Upon taking the presidency, he reverted many of the policies of Sankara, claiming that his policy was a “rectification” of the Burkinabé revolution. Soon after he became President he also eliminated two major revolutionary leaders, Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani, accused of plotting against the regime.
President Compaoré and his Presidential Guard have been implicated in the death of reporter Norbert Zongo and continued intimidation of the media in Burkina Faso, according to the international organization Reporters Without Borders. The Norbert Zongo murder allegations highlighted one of the only times that Compaoré’s power has been truly questioned and jeopardized.
Blaise Campaore’s liability in connection with the assassination of former President has been the object of the first complaint Against Burkina Faso, lodged by Mariam Sankara, Thomas Sankara’s widow. In April 2006, the UN Human Rights Committee issued a damning condemnation of Burkina Faso’s failure to investigate the circumstance of Thomas Sankara’s death (and prosecute those responsible for Sankara’s death)
He has proposed a “National Reconciliation” that is not widely supported by his opposition.
Compaoré was elected president in 1991, though it must be noted that main opposition parties boycotted in protest to the questionable means Compaoré used to take office in the first place, surrounding the murder of Sankara. In this election, only 25% of the electorate even participated, emphasizing tremendous political instability and protest amongst the masses. In 1998 he was re-elected for the first time. In August 2005, he announced his intention to contest the next presidential election. Opposition politicians regard his 2005 re-election bid as unconstitutional due to a constitutional amendment in 2000 limiting a president to two terms, and reducing term lengths from seven to five years, thus barring Compaoré from seeking a third term. Compaoré’s supporters dispute this, saying that the amendment cannot be applied retroactively.
Notwithstanding opposition objections, in October 2005 the constitutional council ruled that because Compaoré was a sitting president in 2000, the amendment would not apply until the end of his second term in office, thereby allowing him to present his candidacy for the 2005 election.
On November 13, 2005, Compaoré was re-elected president, defeating 12 opponents and winning 80.35% of the vote. Although, early on in the race, 16 opposition parties announced a coalition to unseat the President, ultimately nobody wanted to give up their spot in the race to another leader in the coaliton, and the pact fell through.