Halouné Traoré, a former comrade of pan-African icon and Burkina Faso ex-president Thomas Sankara, explains how he was the only one to survive the 1987 coup where Sankara was assassinated, along with 12 others. 34 years on, the perpetrators are finally scheduled to be tried open Monday in Ouagadougou.
Traoré hopes that at the trial “the truth finally gets told” about Sankara’s assassination but accepts will not be able to restore “the dreams for Burkina”.
“We had a meeting planned in this room around 4 pm. The comrade president arrived last, we were waiting for him in the meeting room here, and as soon as he arrived, the meeting began. So we started the meeting and as I had just been sent to Benin for a mission I had the floor. I had just enough time to say “I left Ouagadougou” and start my report when we heard shooting from outside and someone shout in a rather strong tone: “Get out! get out! get out!” So after these orders, the comrade president got up, adjusted his clothing and wen t out that way, with his hands up. He was shot at point-blank range at the entrance to that room.”
Traoré hopes that at the trial “the truth finally gets told” about Sankara’s assassination but he accepts it will not be able to restore “the dreams we had for Burkina”.
“The major expectation I have is that the truth finally gets told, the truth that a man, a group of men, and particularly President Thomas Sankara was murdered for loving his country. If the trial could allow us to establish this truth… .”
Compaore has long denied suspicions he organised the murder of his former comrade-in-arms — but throughout his long years in power, Sankara’s death was always taboo.