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Burkina Faso’s ex-president charged with treason

July 17, 2015

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Blaise Compaore, the former president who ruled this West African country for nearly three decades, has been charged with “high treason” over his bid to change the constitution and run for a third term, state media said Thursday night.

Compaore’s attempt to stay in power prompted massive demonstrations in Ouagadougou and elsewhere in the country last October, leading him to resign and flee the country.

In addition to the charges against Compaore, the transitional parliament brought murder and assault charges against government officials who approved of his bid to stay on. Amnesty International and other groups say security forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrators during the uprising, killing some.

Embezzlement charges have also been filed against former officials including ex-foreign affairs minister Djibril Bassolet, a candidate for president in elections scheduled for October.

All charges will be sent to the public prosecutor.

Compaore lives in neighboring Ivory Coast, though he reportedly flew to Morocco this week for medical treatment.

Burkina Faso is being led by a transitional government in the run-up to the elections. An electoral code passed earlier this year barred officials who supported Compaore’s bid for a third term from running, though a regional court this week said the code was “a violation of the right to participate in fair elections.”

The transitional government will abide by the court’s ruling, interim President Michel Kafando announced in a radio address Thursday night. He did not give details.

Kafando also announced that he would retain Lt. Col. Yacouba Isaac Zida as prime minister, despite calls from the elite Presidential Security Regiment for his resignation. Zida is a former second-in-command of the unit.

The president said, however, that he would take control of the defense ministry, which had been led by Zida. Kafando is also acting as foreign affairs minister.

Update hourly