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Blaise Compaoré
President of Burkina Faso

In office
15 October 1987 – 31 October 2014
Prime Minister Youssouf Ouédraogo
Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo
Paramanga Ernest Yonli
Tertius Zongo
Luc-Adolphe Tiao
Preceded by Thomas Sankara
Succeeded by Honoré Traoré (as Transitional Head of State)
Personal details
Born 3 February 1951(1951-02-03) (age 71)
Ziniaré, Upper Volta[1]
Citizenship Ivorian (2016–)[2]
Political party Congress for Democracy and Progress
Spouse(s) Chantal de Fougères
Relations François (brother)
Religion Roman Catholicism
Nickname(s) Handsome Blaise[3]
Website B on Twitter
Military service
Allegiance Flag of Upper Volta.svg Republic of Upper Volta
Flag of Burkina Faso.svg Burkina Faso
Rank Captain

Blaise Compaoré (born 3 February 1951)[4][5] is a Burkinabé politician who was president of Burkina Faso from 1987 to 2014. He was a top associate of President Thomas Sankara during the 1980s, and in October 1987, he led a coup d'état during which Sankara was killed. Subsequently, he introduced a policy of "rectification", overturning the leftist and Third Worldist policies pursued by Sankara. He won elections in 1991, 1998, 2005, and 2010 in what were considered unfair circumstances.[6][7][8] His attempt to amend the constitution to extend his 27-year term caused the 2014 Burkinabé uprising. On 31 October 2014, Compaoré resigned, whereupon he fled to the Ivory Coast.[9][10]

Early career

Compaoré was born in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso (then named Upper Volta) and grew up in nearby Ziniaré.[1] He reached the rank of captain in the Voltaïc army. Compaoré met Thomas Sankara in 1976 in a military training center in Morocco, and subsequently Compaoré and Sankara were considered close friends. Compaoré played a major role in the coups d'état against Saye Zerbo and Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo. He has been married to Chantal Compaoré (née Chantal Terrasson) since 1985.

Under Sankara's leadership, which lasted from 1983 to 1987, Compaoré was his deputy[11] and was a member of the National Revolutionary Council.[4] He served as Minister of State at the Presidency[4][5][11] and subsequently as Minister of State for Justice.[5]


Compaoré was involved in the 1983 and 1987 coups, taking power after the second in which his predecessor Sankara was killed. He was elected President in 1991, in an election that was boycotted by the opposition, and re-elected in 1998, 2005, and 2010.[12]

1983 coup

At the age of 33, Compaoré organized a Coup d'état, which deposed Major Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo on 4 August 1983.[13] The coup d'état was supported by Libya, which was, at the time, on the verge of war with France in Chad[14] (see History of Chad). Other key participants were Captain Henri Zongo, Major Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani and the charismatic Captain Thomas Sankara—who was pronounced President.

1987 coup

Compaoré took power on 15 October 1987 in a coup during which Sankara was killed.[15] Deteriorating relations with France and neighboring Ivory Coast was the reason given for the coup. Compaoré described the killing of Sankara as an "accident", but the circumstances have never been properly investigated.[16] Upon taking the presidency, he reverted many of the policies of Sankara, claiming that his policy was a "rectification" of the Burkinabé revolution.

Initially ruling in a triumvirate with Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani, in September 1989 these two were arrested, charged with plotting to overthrow the government, summarily tried, and executed.[17]

1991 and 1998 elections

Compaoré was elected as president in 1991 in an election boycotted by the main opposition parties in protest at the questionable means Compaoré had used to take office in the first place. Only 25 percent of the electorate voted. In 1998, he was re-elected for the first time. In 2003, numerous alleged plotters were arrested, following accusations of a coup plot against Compaoré. In August 2005, he announced his intention to contest the next presidential election. Opposition politicians regarded this as unconstitutional due to a constitutional amendment in 2000 limiting a president to two terms, and reducing term lengths from seven to five years. Compaoré's supporters disputed this, saying that the amendment could not be applied retroactively,[18] and in October 2005, the constitutional council ruled that because Compaoré was a sitting president in 2000, the amendment would not apply until the end of his second term in office, thereby allowing him to present his candidacy for the 2005 election.

2005 election

Palais Kossyam, since 2005 the president's official residence

On 13 November 2005, Compaoré was re-elected as president, defeating 12 opponents and winning 80.35 percent of the vote. Although sixteen opposition parties announced a coalition to unseat Compaoré early on in the race, ultimately nobody wanted to give up their spot in the race to another leader in the coalition, and the pact fell through.

Following Compaoré's victory, he was sworn in for another term on 20 December 2005.[19]

2011 protests

On 14 April 2011, Compaoré was reported to have fled from the capital Ouagadougou to his hometown of Ziniare after mutineering military bodyguards began a revolt in their barracks reportedly over unpaid allowances.[20] Their actions eventually spread to the presidential compound and other army bases.[20] In the night, gunfire was reported at the presidential compound and an ambulance was seen leaving the compound. Soldiers also looted shops in the city through the night.[21]

2014 uprising

In June 2014 Compaoré's ruling party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), called on him to organise a referendum that would allow him to alter the constitution in order to seek re-election in 2015. Otherwise, he would be forced to step down due to term limits.[22]

On 30 October 2014, the National Assembly was scheduled to debate an amendment to the constitution that would have enabled Compaoré to stand for re-election as president in 2015. Opponents protested this by storming the parliament building in Ouagadougou, starting fires inside it and looting offices. Billowing smoke was reported by the BBC to be coming from the building.[23] Opposition spokesman Pargui Emile Paré, of the People's Movement for Socialism / Federal Party described the protests as "Burkina Faso's black spring, like the Arab spring".[24]

Compaoré reacted to the events by shelving the proposed constitutional changes, dissolving the government, declaring a state of emergency, and offering to work with the opposition to resolve the crisis. Later in the day, the military, under General Honore Traore, announced that it would install a transitional government "in consultation with all parties" and that the National Assembly was dissolved; he foresaw "a return to the constitutional order" within a year. He did not make clear what role, if any, he envisioned for Compaoré during the transitional period.[25][26][27] Compaoré said that he was prepared to leave office at the end of the transition.[28]

On 31 October, Compaoré announced he had left the presidency and that there was a "power vacuum". He also called for a "free and transparent" election within 90 days. Presidential guard officer Yacouba Isaac Zida then took over as head of state in an interim capacity. It was reported that a heavily armed convoy believed to be carrying Compaoré was traveling towards the southern town of .[29] However, it diverted before reaching the town and he then fled to Ivory Coast with the support of President Alassane Ouattara.[30][31][32][33]

A week later, Jeune Afrique published an interview with Compaoré in which he alleged that "part of the opposition was working with the army" to plot his overthrow and that "history will tell us if they were right." He added that he would "not wish for his worst enemy" to be in Zida's place.[34]

Sierra Leone Civil War

Compaoré introduced Charles Taylor to his friend Muammar Gaddafi. Compaoré also helped Taylor in the early 1990s by sending him troops and resources.[35][36][37]

International and regional roles

Delegates of Ansar Dine and the MNLA in Ouagadougou, with Blaise Compaoré (November 16, 2012)

In 1993, President Compaoré headed the Burkina-Faso delegation that participated in the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development.[38]

Compaoré has been active as a mediator in regional issues.[39] On 26 July 2006, he was designated as the mediator of the Inter-Togolese Dialogue, which was held in Ouagadougou in August 2006[40] and resulted in an agreement between the government and opposition parties.[41] He has also acted as mediator in the crisis in Ivory Coast, brokering the peace agreement signed by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro in Ouagadougou on 4 March 2007.[42] In March 2012, he acted as a mediator in talks between representatives of the Malian coup d'état and other regional leaders.[43]

The BBC noted in 2014 that he was "the strongest ally to France and the US in the region," and that "despite his own history of backing rebels and fuelling civil wars in the West African neighbourhood ... more importantly, he used his networks to help Western powers battling Islamist militancy in the Sahel."[39]

As of January 2016, the capital is in the grip of a terrorist attack. Jihadists who had suites and tables in town, following agreements with Campaoré of non-aggression. As a result, the military group of the presidential guard received enormous credits while the army was impoverished to avoid any military coup.[44]

He served on the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) International Advisory Board.

Political views

In an interview with the magazine Famille Chrétienne, President Compaoré asserted that the notion of sexual abstinence was not a monopoly of the Roman Catholic Church and that European non-governmental organizations that disagreed with traditional morality were profiting from the situation to intervene in regional African affairs.[45]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Apathetic voters likely to hand Compaore landslide victory ",
  2. "Burkina Faso ex-leader Blaise Compaore becomes Ivorian". BBC News. 24 February 2016. 
  3. Dodman, Benjamin (31 October 2014). "Blaise Compaoré, the African peacemaker who faced rebellion at home". France24. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Profiles of People in Power: The World's Government Leaders (2003), page 76–77.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Biographie du président", website of the Presidency (in French).
  6. "BBC News | Africa | Burkina Faso president set for re-election". 
  7. "Compaore's decision to bid for re-election raises opposition hackles" (in en). 2005-08-11. 
  8. [l'actualité au Burkina Faso "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}"] (in fr). l'actualité au Burkina Faso. 
  9. "Burkina Faso general takes over as Compaore resigns". 31 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  10. "Former Burkina president Compaore arrives in Ivory Coast - sources", Reuters, 1 November 2014.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "AROUND THE WORLD; New Cabinet Named In Bourkina Fasso", The New York Times, September 2, 1984.
  12. "Burkina Faso president re-elected by landslide", BLNZ. November 25, 2010
  13. The date of the 194th anniversary of the Abolition of Feudal Privileges in France may have been chosen for symbolic purposes, but there is no evidence of this.
  14. Chad was at war with Libya. France was providing air support to Chad. According to witnesses, some French troops were involved in ground operations.
  15. Christophe Châtelot (30 November 2010). "Burkina Faso's president is in a league of his own". Guardian Weekly. Retrieved 21 January 2015. "The day you find out Blaise is preparing a putsch against me, don't bother trying to counter him or even warning me. It will already be too late..." 
  16. "United Nations Human Rights Website - Treaty Bodies Database - Document - Jurisprudence - Burkina Faso". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  17. "Burkina Faso (Upper Volta): Independence to the Present", Encyclopedia of African History
  18. "Burkina Faso: Compaore's decision to bid for re-election raises opposition hackles", IRIN, August 11, 2005.
  19. "Mme Brigitte Girardin a représenté la France à la cérémonie d’investiture de M. Blaise Compaoré (Ouagadougou, 20 décembre 2005)" Archived 2009-04-15 at the Wayback Machine., French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in French).
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Burkino Faso soldiers mutiny over pay". BBC World Service. 15 April 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  21. "Burkina Faso President Dismisses Cabinet as Soldiers Loot in Ouagadougou". Bloomberg. 16 April 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  22. Burkina Faso ruling party calls for referendum on term limits, Africa, 22 June 2014, ENCA,
  23. "Burkina Faso parliament set ablaze", BBC News, 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  24. "Protesters storm Burkina Faso's parliament". The Guardian. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  25. "Burkina Faso army announces emergency measures", BBC News, 30 October 2014.
  26. Hervé Taoko and Alan Cowell, "Government of Burkina Faso collapses", The New York Times, 30 October 2014.
  27. Mathieu Bonkoungou and Joe Penney, "Burkina army imposes interim government after crowd burns parliament", Reuters, 30 October 2014.
  28. "Compaore says will step down as Burkina Faso president", Deutsche Welle, 30 October 2014.
  29. "Burkina Faso general takes over as Compaore resigns". BBC News. 
  30. "Burkina Faso president arrives in Ivory Coast", Anadolu Agency, 1 November 2014.
  31. "Burkina Faso appoints new transitional leader", Associated Press, 1 November 2014.
  32. "Former Burkina president Compaore arrives in Ivory Coast - sources", Reuter, 1 November 2014.
  33. "Ex-Burkina president Compaore in Ivory Coast", Vanguard, 1 November 2014.
  34. "Burkina Faso transition talks move forward", AFP, 9 November 2014.
  36. Liberia's civil war: Nigeria, ECOMOG, and regional security in West Africa. Adekeye Adebajo p. 55
  37. A dirty war in West Africa: the RUF and the destruction of Sierra Leone, Volume 2005, Part 2. Lansana Gberie p. 53
  38. Japan, Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MOFA): 28 African nations
  39. 39.0 39.1 Fessy, Thomas (31 October 2014). "How Burkina Faso's Blaise Compaore sparked his own downfall". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  40. "Inter-Togolese dialogue resumes in Ouagadougou", (, 9 August 2006.
  41. "TOGO: Political agreement aims to end 12-year feud ", IRIN, 21 August 2006.
  42. "COTE D'IVOIRE: New peace agreement", IRIN, 5 March 2007.
  43. "Mali Tuareg rebels seize key garrison town of Gao". BBC News. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  44. "France Inter, Géopolitique, Anthony Bellanger, Radio France August 14th 2017.
  45. "Famille Chrétienne". Retrieved 30 April 2013. 

Further reading

  • Guion, Jean R. (1991). Blaise Compaoré: Realism and Integrity: Portrait of the Man Behind Rectification in Burkina Faso. Paris: Berger-Levrault International. ISBN 2701310008. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Sankara
President of Burkina Faso
Succeeded by
Yacouba Isaac Zida
as Transitional Head of State
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Dawda Jawara
Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States
Succeeded by
Dawda Jawara
Preceded by
Robert Mugabe
Chairperson of the African Union
Succeeded by
Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Preceded by
Mamadou Tandja
Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States
Succeeded by
Umaru Yar'Adua

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