Ibrahim Traore (1988-)

Captain Ibrahim Traoré sitting in a brown leather chair with two armed guards in the background
Captain Ibrahim Traoré during the meeting with the general secretaries of Burkina on Sunday, October 2, 2022
Photograph by EKokou, courtesy Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

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On September 30, 2022, Captain Ibrahim Traore led a military coup in Burkina Faso, overthrowing the government of Paul-Henry Sandaogo Damiba. On October 21, 2022, Traore was sworn in as transitional president and head of state of Burkina Faso. He was also appointed supreme chief of the Burkinabe armed forces. He is the youngest head of state in the world.
Ibrahim Traore was born in 1988 in Bondokuy, Burkina Faso. He attended primary school in his hometown and secondary school in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso’s second-largest city. In 2006 he entered the University of Ouagadougou, graduating in 2009 with honors.

Later in 2009, he enlisted in the Burkinabe army. He quickly impressed his superiors and was sent for anti-aircraft training in Morocco. In 2014 he was promoted to lieutenant. In 2018 Traore served with the United Nations peacekeeping forces in northern Mali. He participated in several counter-insurgency operations against militant Islamists and ethnic insurgents. He was commended for showing bravery in these encounters by his superiors.

In 2019 he was stationed in the north of Burkina Faso, where an insurgency raged. He was later promoted to captain.
The rebel insurgency has had grave consequences for the people of Burkina Faso. By late 2021 a humanitarian crisis was evident in many parts of the country. A quarter of the population faced food insecurity. Food shortages were common in many areas. Various insurgent groups roamed freely in the countryside. Some were allied with Islamic State, others with al-Qaeda. In January 2022, a military coup led by Paul-Henry Sandaogo Damiba overthrew the civilian government.

Under the new government, little improvement was seen by many members of the military. Those stationed in remote areas often did not receive their pay on time. In mid-September 2022, eleven soldiers were killed in the north of the country by insurgents. This sparked rage among many soldiers. Traore rallied the soldiers and led a coup against Damiba, who fled the country. Traore was installed as transitional president and promised elections in 2024 or sooner.
In the immediate aftermath of the coup, anti-French and Western sentiments were voiced by many coup supporters. Others voiced pro-Russian opinions. ECOWAS, an organization of West African states, condemned the coup but took little action against the new government.

Traore’s politics remain unclear, except for being pro-military and anti-insurgent. Traore has not released any details about his personal life.

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