Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Former Liberian Warlord Claims He Was Ordered to Assassinate Burkinabe Leader Thomas Sankara

MONROVIA 27 October 2008 Sapa-AFP


A former Liberian warlord has told AFP in an interview that Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore ordered him and his men to remove his predecessor Thomas Sankara from power in 1987.

One of Africa's longest-serving leaders, Compaore - then deputy to Sankara - has always denied playing a role in the death of Sankara, assassinated during the coup in 1987 which brought him to power.

Prince Johnson told AFP and Radio France International in the
interview Sunday that he was part of a group of Liberian mercenaries commanded by Charles Taylor who had arrived in Burkina Faso on a separate mission, to plot the overthrow of Liberian President Samuel Doe.

But while they were in the country, "the second in command, Blaise Compaore, had asked us to help him get Thomas Sankara out of power," Johnson said in the interview.

"He said this was the only way we could live in Burkina Faso
without any threat. And Sankara was killed in the process. We did it because that is the only way we could stay in Burkina and prepare our attack against Doe."

"Blaise Compaore was everything there. He controlled the military barrack and the special commandos' forces that were in charge of the presidential palace. So it was very easy to penetrate."

Burkinabe government spokesman Philippe Sawadogo condemned the allegations as "barely worthy of fiction".

"I ask myself who is behind these fabrications," Sawadogo said, adding that the allegations "are very simply an intention to attack our country's image".

Johnson has already told Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (TRC) in August that he took part in Sankara's
assassination, but did not say who ordered the killing.

Taylor and Johnson were allies in the early 1980s, but they later fell out, with Johnson forming a rival organisation to Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). Johnson is now a member of Liberia's senate.

Known for his brutality, which included the videotaping of his fighters torturing and killing Doe in 1990, Johnson was the first former warlord to testify before the TRC since it started its hearings last year.

Taylor is currently on trial for war crimes before the UN-backed Special Court of Sierra Leone in The Hague.

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