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Captain Ibrahim Traoré, Burkina Faso’s new strongman

The face of the new coup that hit Burkina Faso on Friday, September 30 is him: Captain Ibrahim Traoré. The population discovered it at the end of last week on the images of the public channel RTB, to the right of the spokesman of the new junta. The latter had just announced the fall of Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba, himself in this place on the television set eight months earlier, the day he had overthrown the democratically elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.

A new generation of officers

34-year-old Ibrahim Traoré is not particularly known to Western intelligence services and was not on the list of officers whose names had been circulating for several weeks in Ouagadougou to overthrow and replace Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba. On the other hand, he is indeed one of the representatives of this new generation which does not bother, on the continent, with convolutions to influence the destiny of their country and to break with the hybrid and corrupt systems inherited from decolonization. A generation born nearly thirty years after independence, graduates, inspired by Thomas Sankara and internationally oriented.

His curriculum vitae draws the portrait of a solid and skilful man. Traits confirmed by those who met him, childhood friends, soldiers and journalists.

Originally from Mouhoun (in the center-west), he was born in 1988 into a Dioula family, according to journalist Édouard Samboe, founder of the information site, who adds: “He is not Mossi (1), which is new to us. » He entered high school in Bobo-Dioulasso (the economic capital of Burkina), where he obtained a baccalaureate D in 2006.

Ibrahim Traoré then pursued scientific studies at Joseph Ki-Zerbo University in Ouagadougou, with a degree in life and earth sciences. After graduating, he left university to join the army in 2009. Second lieutenant in 2012, he underwent artillery training in Morocco, before being transferred to the Kaya artillery regiment in the Center-North region.

Lieutenant in 2014, promoted to captain in 2020, he helplessly witnesses the victories of armed groups, the terrorist contagion in Burkina Faso and notes President Kaboré’s lack of will to provide the army with effective means to fight against these groups. Ibrahim Traoré participates in several operations, fights in the North, suffers from the inadequacies and malfunctions of the army and the State.

A first coup

Defective equipment, insufficient ammunition, incompetent supervision: Burkinabe soldiers are regularly beaten by terrorist groups, arousing the anger of the military community. “You have to go to the depths of Burkina Faso to understand certain things. I patrol the bush with my men, the minimum logistics do not follow (…). We propose solutions to feed people and protect them and we are not listened to,” he confided to our colleagues from VOA AfricaSaturday, October 1.

The results of the attack on the Inata military base (at least 53 gendarmes killed) on November 14, 2021 lead to the fall of President Kaboré in favor of a group of soldiers determined to rationalize and reorganize the armed struggle against terrorism. Among them, already, Captain Traoré. Their leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba, hoisted him to the head of the 10th artillery regiment of Kaya in March. On the other hand, he is not part of the elite Cobra unit, as has often been said in recent days.

But under the leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba – who became President of Burkina Faso on February 10 – the security situation continues to deteriorate, towns are surrounded by armed groups, the number of displaced people exceeds 1.5 million, while that the clientelist, wheeler-dealer and corrupt system continues to plague the state apparatus at the expense of the people and the soldiers sent to the front. After a new disaster, the attack on a food convoy secured by the army in the direction of Djibo (on September 26, at least eleven soldiers and dozens of civilians killed), the authority of President Damiba collapsed.

An air of Sankara

Ibrahim Traoré seized power without great difficulty, like before him since 2020 other young officers in Mali, Guinea and Chad, thereby illustrating that the army remains, on the continent, a royal road and a springboard to occupy the presidential palace. Since when did Ibrahim Traoré dream of seizing, in turn, the Burkinabe crown? Hard to say.

On the other hand, he seems well animated by a desire for change while taking on an accent à la Thomas Sankara. To the secretaries general of the ministries, the new strong man of the country declared facing the camera, Monday, October 3: “In Burkina everything is urgent, from security to defence, from health to social action, to infrastructure, everything is urgent, we will have to move quickly. Please, we will have to spare ourselves the red tape. »

And to add, menacingly: “There are people in the ministries who have the art of taking files, putting them down and not processing them, or often who dare to ask for something else before processing them. Spot these people and take action! »

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