The remains of late Burkina Faso President Thomas Sankara are to be buried where a memorial to him already stands, but his family is boycotting the ceremony and says the site is “inadequate for all the burden it contains”.
“We believed and continue to believe that it is fundamental that a space be found that allows to gather and appease hearts, and not to divide and increase resentment,” the Sankaras added in their statement on Sunday, calling the place chosen by the government “conflictual and controversial”.
The bodies of Sankara and his 12 companions were first buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of the capital Ouagadougou and then exhumed in 2015, for the purposes of legal proceedings.
Sankara is considered by many a pan-African icon for his progressive policies on health, education and agriculture.
He took power after a coup in August 1983 and was killed four years later, in another coup led by his friend and brother-in-arms Blaise Compaoré – who remained in power for 27 years.
In 2014, a popular uprising led to the end of his regime and he took refuge in neighbouring Ivory coast.
In April, a military court in Ouagadougou sentenced him in absentia to life in prison for his role in the assassination of Sankara and his companions, following a long-awaited trial.