Blaise Compaore served as Thomas Sankara’s advisor, deputy, and Minister of State in two positions in Burkina Faso between 1983-1987. He would become President in 1987 as a result of a coup.
Compaore met Sankara in 1976 when Sankara was the commander of the Commando Training Center. From there he would co-found the Communist Officers’ Group with Sankara. The group would lay the groundwork for removing Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo from power in 1983 and installing Sankara. He would benefit from the coup that killed Sankara on October 15, 1987, and became President of Burkina Faso.
First Two Terms
Initially, Compaore ruled in concert with Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani, members of the Burkina Faso military and of the Communist Officers’ Group prior. He would have them arrested in the fall of 1989 for treason and executed.
During his early years as President, one of his main objectives was to paint Sankara unfavorably and reverse almost all of his progress. His reason for doing so was to salvage the toxic but immediately beneficial political relationships that had been damaged as a result of Sankara’s progressive policies.
While he ruled as a dictator, he had to hold onto his seat. Of course, this was all a trivial exercise to him as he managed to remain President in 1991, 1998, and 2005 elections through various–often suspect means. In 1991, there were major protests against his presidency and how he took office. In 1998 it was much of the same.
The 2005 election was interesting in that he announced he would be running again but the Burkina Faso constitution limited terms to two. An amendment in 2000 cut the term length to five–Parliament perhaps having enough of Blaise Compaore. The loophole for Compaore was that this amendment would come into effect until his second term ended.
The 2005 election saw Compaore face off against twelve opponents from the various parties in Burkina Faso. Several parties form an alliance to take down Compaore but it would it couldn’t get behind a definite leader. In the end, he walked away with a questionable 80-percent of the vote. Six years later, Compaore would be on the run, fleeing from his country.
In the next entry, we’ll go into the uprising that causes Compaore to flee his position as President of Burkina Faso. We’ll also go into the second uprising three years following.