Burkina Faso’s ousted ex-president Compaore returns for summit

President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, sits on stage to support a commitment to stop poaching of African elephants at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

OUAGADOUGOU, July 7 (Reuters) – Burkina Faso’s ex-president Blaise Compaore returned from exile on Thursday, almost eight years after he was toppled in an uprising, to take part in a meeting with interim president Paul-Henri Damiba and other former leaders.

Compaore, 71, has returned to the West African country despite being convicted in absentia in April to life in prison for complicity in his predecessor Thomas Sankara’s murder.

Lawyers for Sankara’s family have demanded that Compaore be arrested on arrival, although Burkinabe media have speculated in recent days that he could be granted a pardon.

Ivory Coast, where he took refuge in 2014, has repeatedly refused to extradite him and said it had agreed to his return with Burkinabe authorities. read more

Compaore’s plane landed in the capital Ouagadougou on Thursday afternoon, after which a helicopter took off toward the presidential palace, a Reuters reporter at the airport said.

Burkina Faso’s leader Damiba, who took power in a January coup, has invited Compaore and other ex-presidents to take part in a reconciliation summit on Friday amid rising insecurity linked to an Islamist insurgency in the north.

Compaore, who ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years, fled to Ivory Coast during a 2014 uprising sparked by his efforts to change the constitution to allow himself to remain in power.

He was handed a life sentence in April for his role in the 1987 murder of Marxist revolutionary Sankara. 

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