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THOMAS SANKARA: The Role France Played in His Assassination?

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On Wednesday, Burka Faso’s former President Blaise Compaoré was found guilty and received a life sentence in absentia for his role in the assassination of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara. But was Compaoré’s action inspired, orchastrated and backed by France?

Sankara, 37, was gunned down along with 12 others during the 1987 coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power.

The pair had been close friends and had jointly seized power in 1983.

Sankara remains a hero for many across Africa because of his anti-imperialist stance and austere lifestyle.

After seizing power at the age of just 33, the Marxist revolutionary known by some as “Africa’s Che Guevara”, campaigned against corruption and oversaw huge increases in education and health spending

The prosecution said Sankara was lured to his death at a meeting of the ruling National Revolutionary Council.

He was shot in the chest at least seven times, according to ballistics experts who testified during the trial.

Blaise Compaoré

Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, who attended the trial throughout, said the verdict represented “justice and truth” after a 35-year wait.

“Our goal was for the political violence we have in Burkina Faso to come to end. This verdict will give many people cause for thought.”

However, there is little prospect that Compaoré will serve his sentence any time soon. He has lived in exile in Ivory Coast since he was removed from office following mass protests in 2014, and has taken up Ivorian nationality.

He previously denounced the trial by a military court as a political sham.

Compaoré with Sankara. Your enemy is not far from you.

Ten others were also found guilty, including Compaoré’s security chief Haycinthe Kafando, who was accused of leading the hit squad that killed Sankara.

He has been on the run for several years and was also tried in absentia. He too received a life sentence.

They had both denied the charges.

Gilbert Diendéré, one of the commanders of the army during the 1987 coup and the main defendant who was actually present at the trial, was also sentenced to life. He is already serving a 20-year sentence for a coup attempt in 2015.

Mariam Sankara, widow of leader Thomas Sankara, sits in the Ougadougou courtroom in October, 2021

Meanwhile, in February, 2013, Emile Schepers, a veteran civil and immigrants rights activist wrote the following article he titled “People’s World Demand for inquiry into France’s role in assassination of African leader” published in People’s World:

On February 13, a member of the French Chamber of Deputies tabled a motion to begin a parliamentary investigation of the assassination of Captain Thomas Sankara, President of Burkina Faso, in 1987.Sankara, who himself took power in a coup d’état in 1983, was a progressive and charismatic leader who is sometimes referred to as Africa’s Che Guevara. Succeeding a regime seen as subservient to France, Sankara changed the name of his country from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means land of men of integrity. He was considered incorruptible, and gained the love and support of poor Burkinabés (as the people of Burkina Faso are called) because of his programs of land reform, agricultural development, improved health care and schools and other similar things. Two very popular emphases of Sankara’s policies were the improvement in the situation of women and the curtailment of the traditional powers of tribal chiefs, who were seen by many as corrupt. He nationalized all land and subsoil wealth of Burkina Faso. But in 1987, he was overthrown and killed in a military coup organized by Blaise Compoaré, at that time a military officer also, and now president of Burkina Faso. The reason given for the coup was that Sankara’s nationalizations and anti-imperialist rhetoric were angering the French and neighboring African countries aligned with France. With Sankara out of the way, many of his progressive policies were reversed, including the nationalizations.

Jacques René Chiracis was Prime Minister of France in 1987

But Sankara’s supporters have not forgotten him in the ensuing 26 years, and have kept up a campaign to achieve justice for Sankara, and a return to his progressive socialist policies.The belief that France and perhaps the United States were involved in the overthrow and killing of Sankara did not come from nowhere. Besides the flat statement by the Compoaré group that they overthrew Sankara because he was annoying the French, many of the individuals who have carried out coups in Africa have been former French or French colonial army officers, and the involvement of French security services and business interests in such actions is well known. The CIA has also been involved in several coups, most notably in the overthrow of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1960 and of Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah in 1966. In each case, the leader overthrown and/or killed was seen as a threat to French, U.S. or other western business interests because of his progressive policies.Earlier this year, the French newspaper Liberacion published a story which strongly suggests some sort of French security involvement in the incident in 1994 in which an airplane carrying the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda was shot down over the Rwandan capital of Kigali, an incident which helped trigger the Rwandan genocide and some other current conflicts in Central Africa.People in Burkina Faso cannot get at the necessary French government records under normal circumstances.So in 2011, a group of Burkinabé parliamentarians wrote to the French National Assembly calling for it to begin an inquiry into the Sankara assassination. A motion to that effect has now been tabled in the lower house of the National Assembly by Andre Chassaigne, a deputy from the French Communist Party. A guest from Burkina Faso’s left-wing Union pour la Renaissance/Parti Sankariste, Me Benewende Stanislas Sankara, attended the 36th Congress of the French Communist Party this month. On returning to Burkina Faso, he participated in a press conference in the Burkinabé capital, Ouagadougou, to advance the same demands.Mr. Chassaigne’s motion coincides with an increasing level of U.S., French and NATO involvement in African affairs, including an exponential expansion of U.S. military missions under the AFRICOM command. The latest is that the Republic of Niger is now allowing the U.S. to set up drone bases in the Southern part if its territory, near the border with Mali.It’s necessary that we in the United States also be ready to demand answers from our own government.

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How Colin Powell, America’s First Black Secretary of State, Died

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Colin Powell, the first Black secretary of state in United States of America died on Monday. According to reports, the former statesman and military commander died of COVID-19-related complications at the age of 84.

The report says he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that makes it difficult to fight infections.

Born April 5, 1937 to Jamaican immigrants in Harlem, Powell’s “American Journey” started in New York, where he grew up and earned a degree in geology. Powell served four U.S. presidents and rose to become the first African American and the youngest chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking military officer in the US. He died Monday at Walter Reed National Medical Center. His family said he was fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

General Powell

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said in a statement on Facebook

Powell became very popular after engineering military victory in the 1991 Gulf War. He was so respected that he was considered a strong candidate to become the first ever Black US president. But he turned down such ambition of running for the White House and endorsed Barack Obama for the office.

Powell was also America’s first Black national security advisor under president Ronald Reagan.

Powell and George Bush

George W. Bush described Powell “an American hero, an American example, and a great American story” as he nominated the military man as his secretary of state in 2000.

“He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice,” Bush said on Monday.

“He was highly respected at home and abroad. And, most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”

Powell had a reputation for bipartisanship, straight-talking and integrity, and was praised for his officer’s instincts of duty and honor.

US Defense Secretary Austin Powell told reporters Powell was among the “greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed,” lamenting the loss of “a tremendous personal friend and mentor.”

Powell and family

“It’s a blot… and will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now,” Powell said in a 2005 interview with ABC News.

Tributes nevertheless poured in from Congress, where Democratic Senator Mark Warner praised Powell as “a patriot and a public servant,” while House Republican Peter Meijer described him as a rarity in the modern age: “a true soldier statesman.”

“Today, the nation lost a man of undaunted courage and a champion of character,” added centrist Republican Senator Mitt Romney.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who stood firmly behind US actions in Iraq and gave military backing to the war effort, described Powell as a “towering figure in American military and political leadership.”

“He was wonderful to work with, he inspired loyalty and respect and was one of those leaders who always treated those under them with kindness and concern,” Blair said.

Powell and wife Alma in 1962

Powell earned a number of civilian honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice from Bush Senior and Clinton.

He married his wife Alma in 1962. They had three children: Michael, Linda and Annemarie

Oche Onu writes with agency report

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Ronaldo Meets Ole Gunnar, Trains With New Teammates

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Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday reunited with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in his return to Manchester United’s training ground. He also took part in a training session with his new teammates.

Ronaldo, 36, left Juventus before the international break but has been in quarantine after arriving with his family in Manchester last Thursday.

Ronaldo played alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during his first stint at Old Trafford twelve years ago.

A statement from United reads:

‘Cristiano met with boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his former team-mate, in the manager’s office before being introduced to the players who are currently hard at work in training,’ read a statement from United.

‘The spectacular signing from Juventus joined the session with his colleagues and wasted no time in getting acquainted with the group.’

‘Cristiano met with boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his former team-mate, in the manager’s office before being introduced to the players who are currently hard at work in training.

‘The spectacular signing from Juventus joined the session with his colleagues and wasted no time in getting acquainted with the group.’

Ronaldo is expected to make his debut this weekend for United as the Red Devils host Newcastle at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo in training session with new teammates

‘Manchester United is a club that has always had a special place in my heart, and I have been overwhelmed by all the messages I have received since the announcement on Friday,’ Ronaldo said after completing his move back to United.

‘I cannot wait to play at Old Trafford in front of a full stadium and see all the fans again.’

Other players expected to join the Red Devils via this summer transfer window include England winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and centre-back Raphael Varane, a former teammate of Ronaldo at Real Madrid.

United started the season in good form with two wins and a draw from their opening three Premier League games. They look up to build on that in the coming weeks in both the league and in Europe. 

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