After eight years of exile in Côte d'Ivoire, the former president of Burkina Faso Blaise Compaoré has returned to Ouagadougou, despite his life sentence for his role in the assassination of Thomas Sankara. What does this return to the country mean?
"The urgency of preserving the existence of our homeland demands a synergy of actions which does not allow us to give ourselves the luxury of wasting time in polemics", declared the head of the Burkina Faso junta, Paul -Henri Sandaogo Damiba last Friday. At his side stood the former dictator of the country Blaise Compaoré. The latter was able to come to power following the assassination of the national and continental hero Thomas Sankara. A crime he had ordered, said justice, which recently sentenced him to life in prison.
Damiba and Compaoré then conferred, in the presence of another ex-president, Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo. The latter had also organized, on June 21, a tripartite meeting with Damiba and Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.
But Kaboré refused to participate in these "security talks", which Paul-Henri Damiba said he wanted to organize to "forge solid cohesion between Burkinabés". Two other Burkinabe leaders convicted in Sankara's assassination were also absent: Michel Kafando and Isaac Zida.
The rapid return of Compaoré - he left for Abidjan this Sunday - is a snub to the families of the victims of the former president. A question also arises: in what way is reconciliation between former presidents the solution to terrorism? Ouédraogo, Kaboré and Compaoré do not command the actions of terrorists, and Burkina Faso is not divided according to the support of this or that ex-president...
Burkina Faso seeking military support
During Compaoré's controversial stay in Burkina Faso, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara no doubt vouched for him. Moreover, the adviser to the Ivorian head of state and former foreign minister, Ally Coulibaly, accompanied Compaoré.
As for the context, Burkina Faso is currently organizing a military operation of historic proportions. Indeed, from the northeast to the southeast of the country, a total evacuation of civilians is about to be completed, in order to transform the two regions into military zones. However, in this area of 13 square kilometers, the army of Burkina Faso could not effectively sweep without the support of border countries.
If Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Ghana and Niger had accompanied the defense forces of Burkina Faso during operations Koudanlgou 4, in the south, and Taanli 3, in the east, their assistance in the new operation is conditioned.
For Niger and Côte d'Ivoire, the request was quite simple: if the French are not part of the equation, Ouagadougou will have to seek military help elsewhere...
Mali and Wagner, or Barkhane?
On April 22, two military delegations from Mali and Burkina Faso met. On the Burkinabe side, Colonels Daba Naon and Yves Didier Bamouni – head of national operations and spokesperson for the staffs – as well as the head of the special forces Serge Kiendrebego attended the meeting. Assimi Goïta meanwhile sent his Minister of Defense Sadio Camara and the head of the transitional parliament Malick Diaw.
At the center of these discussions behind closed doors, a possible recourse by Burkina Faso to the services of the Russian paramilitaries of Wagner, who are already active in Mali. But according to a close friend of Colonel Bamouni, responsible for leading the imminent operation in Burkina Faso, the junta would like to try everything "before resorting to Russian support".
On June 10, the commander of the French Barkhane force, General Laurent Michon, was received by Paul-Henri Damiba in Burkina Faso. It would seem, looking at the latest investigations on the subject, that Abidjan is trying to tip the scales in favor of the French rather than Wagner.
Because, commenting on the meeting between the Malian and Burkinabe soldiers, Jeune Afrique reveals: “ The neighbors of Burkina Faso are also obviously monitoring the choices made by Damiba in terms of security.. There is no doubt that Mohamed Bazoum and Alassane Ouattara, allies of France in the region, are trying to dissuade him from following the Malian path”.
Was Blaise Compaoré only Ouattara's messenger on this issue? The former president of Burkina Faso is the one who received the most support from Paris. In any case, if Barkhane supports Burkina Faso during its next military operation, this will confirm the hypothesis.