Biography Ibrahim Traoré: the Youngest President in Africa
Ibrahim Traoré, born in 1988, is a military officer from Burkina Faso who assumed the role of interim leader following the coup d’état on September 30, 2022. This coup resulted in the removal of the interim president, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba. Remarkably, at the age of 34, Traoré holds the distinction of being the world’s youngest currently serving state leader.
Ibrahim Traoré, born in 1988 in Bondokuy, Mouhoun Province, embarked on a remarkable journey from his early years. After completing his primary education in Bondokuy, he attended a high school in Bobo-Dioulasso, where he gained recognition for his quiet demeanor and exceptional talent. In pursuit of higher education, Traoré joined the University of Ouagadougou in 2006, where he actively participated in the Association of Muslim Students. He excelled academically and graduated from the university with honors.
In 2009, Traoré joined the army of Burkina Faso, beginning a rapid ascent through the ranks. Following his anti-aircraft training in Morocco, he was assigned to an infantry unit in Kaya, located in the northern region of Burkina Faso. His dedication and proficiency led to his promotion to the rank of lieutenant in 2014.
In the context of the Mali War, Traoré joined MINUSMA, a United Nations peacekeeping force, where he demonstrated remarkable courage during rebel attacks in the Tombouctou Region in 2018. Upon returning to Burkina Faso, he actively participated in operations against the escalating jihadist insurgency. Traoré played a vital role in the “Otapuanu offensive” in 2019 and engaged in several other counter-insurgency operations in the country’s northern regions. Recognizing his exceptional contributions, he was promoted to captain in 2020.
Traoré became part of a group of army officers who supported the January 2022 Burkina Faso coup d’état, which brought the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration military junta to power. From March 2022 onwards, he assumed the leadership of an artillery regiment in Kaya. Reports about his association with the “Cobra” special forces, a counterterrorist unit founded in 2019, differ among various sources. While some sources claim his involvement, others, including Jeune Afrique, state that he was never associated with the “Cobras.”
As dissatisfaction grew among supporters of the January coup regarding the handling of the jihadist insurgency by the junta’s leader, Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, Traoré and other officers attempted to redirect their focus towards combating the rebellion. Eventually, they decided to overthrow Damiba due to concerns that his ambitions deviated from their original goals. The discontent among younger officers, who directly confronted the rebels on the frontlines, was particularly high. Additionally, delays in payment for the “Cobra” troops added to the discontent.
On September 30, Traoré, still holding the rank of Captain, participated in the coup with support from the “Cobra” unit. Following the coup, he declared himself the new head of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration. Subsequently, on October 6, he assumed the role of Interim President, holding the titles of “Head of State” and “Supreme Head of the Armed Forces.” Traoré pledged to organize democratic elections in July 2024.
In February 2023, Traoré’s government expelled French forces assisting in the fight against the local insurgency, expressing a desire to explore new horizons and establish mutually beneficial partnerships. Furthermore, Traoré’s government voiced support for a federation involving Mali and invited Guinea, potentially creating the largest country ruled by a military junta. In April, Traoré called for a “general mobilization” of the population to support the military in response to increasing rebel attacks. The following month, Traoré questioned the feasibility of the planned restoration of democracy in 2024, emphasizing the need to push back the insurgents and improve the security situation before holding elections.