Burkina Faso, originally known as Upper Volta until its name change in 1983, was a French colony, part of French West Africa. It gained its independence from France in August 1960. The post-independence civilian government was authoritarian, and opposition parties were banned. This eventually led to the country's first military coup in 1966. For the following 24 years, there was a succession of military regimes, mostly conservative, but including the short lived revolutionary regime of Captain Isidore Thomas Sankara (August 1983 – October 1987). Assassinated in October 1987, Thomas Sankara was succeeded by a fellow junior officer, Captain Blaise Compaore. His takeover of power was widely condemned at home and abroad.
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