AD155: Burkinabè preference for truth over forgetting put to test in ex-president’s trial over 2014 uprising

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 Best option for peace and reconciliation | Burkina Faso | 2015
Dispatches
2017
155
Thomas Isbell

While accountability is a cornerstone of democracy, it is rare that a former head of state is prosecuted in a national court for misconduct while in office. Burkina Faso is departing from the norm with its trials of former President Blaise Compaore and senior members of his government for allegedly authorizing the use of force against unarmed protesters during a popular uprising in October 2014 (Coulibaly, 2017; Al Jazeera, 2017). At least 24 people were killed during the uprising, which led Compaore to flee the country, ending his 27-year rule.

Burkina Faso moved past a period of instability to peaceful elections in 2015, but as these trials rekindle reflections on the events of October 2014, public-opinion data may shed some light on citizens’ views about how the country should move forward. These data were collected about six months after the uprising, so they will not reflect possible changes in public perceptions since then. 

Survey findings show that at the time, Burkinabè favoured the truth over forgetting and prosecution over amnesty, although they were more divided as to whether a former head of state should face prosecution. A majority of citizens also supported expropriation of ill-gotten by former government officials and compensation for people who lost property during the uprising.