Burkina Faso’s former Foreign Minister, Djibril Bassole, has accused the country’s transitional authorities of detaining him for political reasons to prevent him from participating in this month’s presidential election.
Bassole was arrested mid-September and accused of supporting a coup against the interim government ahead of scheduled elections.
He was previously a joint UN-African Union mediator in Sudan’s Darfur conflict and foreign minister under long-time leader, Blaise Compaore.
“Djibril Bassole considers that he is still a presidential candidate and that he is a pure political prisoner,” his lawyer, Alexandre Varaut, told newsmen in Paris on Friday.
Varaut, just back from Ouagadougou, said that in documentations he was given access to by Burkina Faso courts, there was nothing supporting accusations against his client.
According to two sources familiar with the court proceedings, Bassole’s charges include colluding with foreign forces to destabilise interior security.
“All of this is a blatant lie; he has nothing to do with the putsch.
‘’He is not the organiser, an accomplice or a beneficiary.
“There is no damning evidence in this dossier; it is simply a way of preventing him from participating in the electoral process,” Varaut said.
It would be recalled that the presidential guard led by Gen. Gilbert Diendere took the president, prime minister and cabinet members, hostage, in September, before scheduled elections.
The move resulted in protests and Diendere was forced to step down after a week.
The government had since set Nov. 29 as a new date for presidential and legislative elections, seeking to get a transition to democracy back on track.
However, Varaut said Bassole’s team of lawyers had appealed on Thursday to the region’s top court to try to push to reschedule the elections.
It would be recalled that the transitional government changed the electoral law in April to exclude anyone who supported Compaore’s bid to remain in power and in late August, banned Bassole from running in the election.
But the regional court for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) overruled the decision, but Burkina Faso’s constitutional council ignored the ruling.
While ECOWAS is the highest appeal tribunal in the region, it is not clear how it can enforce its decision