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Dec. 28 (GIN) - An international arrest warrant has been issued for the ex-president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, for his suspected role in the 1987 killing of former president Thomas Sankara , according to a statement by Prosper Farama, a lawyer for Sankara’s family.

The unpopular Compaore was ousted in October 2014 after holding office for 27 years and attempting to remain in power for another five. He is believed to be in the Ivory Coast.

Sankara pursued a philosophy of Marxism and pan-Africanism and was considered by many to be Africa's  “Che Guevara".

He was known for his trademark red beret and rejection of the lavish lifestyle typical of some African leaders.

"Sankara wanted a thriving Burkina Faso, relying on local human and natural resources as opposed to foreign aid," retired professor of economics, Noel Nébié, told Al Jazeera.

"And starting with agriculture, which represents more than 32 per cent of the country's GDP and employs 80 percent of the working population, he smashed the economic elite who controlled most of the arable land and granted access to subsistence farmers. That improved production making the country almost self-sufficient."

The Compaore regime claimed they had buried Sankara in a simple grave in the capital Ouagadougou but now, following a pledge by the current government to exhume the remains nearly three decades after his death, doubts have been raised about their provenance.

"There is no detectable DNA in accordance with the current state of science," said Benewende Stanislas Sankara, one of the lawyers representing Sankara's family.

Sankara's death certificate states that the 37-year-old former army captain died of "natural causes", but the autopsy results, released in October, found the leader's supposed remains were "riddled with bullets".

Several reports have since suggested he was executed by a hit squad at government headquarters.

Initially known as the Republic of Upper Volta, after the river, in 1984 Sankara changed the country's name to Burkina Faso, meaning Land of the Upright People, and he soon made that name the symbol of his nationalization crusade.

"When you wake up in the morning and you remember you are a Burkinabe, you automatically recall the person who thought up that local name and stamped it on us," Ishmael Kaboré, a 47-year-old lawyer in Ouagadougou, told Al Jazeera.

"At first, people felt the name Burkina Faso was odd, awkward and far from the modern and foreign names other countries were bearing in Africa.

"But they realized after his death that Sankara wanted to give us a unique and special identity that tells our history and depicts our character."

Famously - and eerily - just a week before his death, perhaps sensing what was to come, Sankara said: "While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas." w/pix of Thomas Sankara


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