Ex-ministers arrested in Burkina Faso corruption investigation

Jean Bertin Ouedraogo
Jean Bertin Ouedraogo

Two former ministers in the government of Burkina Faso’s toppled leader Blaise Compaore have been arrested as part of a corruption investigation, the state prosecutor said on Wednesday.

Jean Bertin Ouedraogo, ex-infrastructure and development minister, and former security minister Jerome Bougouma were sent to the capital Ouagadougou’s main prison on Tuesday, he added.

They are among eight Compaore-era cabinet members targeted by an investigation into alleged embezzlement of public finances and illicit enrichment launched by the West African country’s transitional authority, the National Transition Council (CNT), in July.

After Compaore’s fall, Burkina Faso’s new authorities vowed to battle corruption. But his supporters accuse them of attempting to settle old scores through measures that include the potential exclusion of his allies from Oct. 11 polls.

“This is the case of the individuals indicted by the CNT that we have started to process,” Armand Ouedraogo, prosecutor at the High Court of Justice, told Reuters.

Former trade minister Arthur Kafando was due to appear before the court on Wednesday.

Compaore fled in October when hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Ouagadougou to protest against his bid to change the constitution and extend his 27-year rule.

Though he won support from Western allies as a key regional power broker in recent years, Compaore left behind a country where many say corruption and impunity hobbled progress despite a growing gold mining industry.

The CNT, which is charged with leading the country to elections, is seeking Compaore’s prosecution for treason and violating the constitution. He is currently living in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast.

Members of Compaore’s last cabinet have also been indicted on charges including assault and murder in connection to a violent crackdown on the demonstrations that eventually ousted the former leader.

“We haven’t yet tackled the case concerning the events of Oct. 31 and 31, 2014 because there are many people that must testify. Must first hear from the wounded and families of victims,” Ouedraogo said.

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