The 34-year-old captain led the recent coup, the country's second since January

Burkina Faso: Ibrahim Traoré takes office as president

REUTERS/VINCENT BADO - Burkina Faso's new military leader, Ibrahim Traoré

Thirty-four-year-old Captain Ibrahim Traoré has been officially named president of Burkina Faso, making him the youngest head of state in the world. As reported on state television by the spokesman for the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration (MPSR), Captain Kiswendsida Farouk Azaria Sorgho, Traoré has assumed the post of "head of state and supreme head of the armed forces."

"Pending the implementation of transitional bodies," Traoré will be "guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity, permanence and continuity of the state," the spokesman was quoted as saying by AFP. The new Burkinabe head of state has already received a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Ouagadougou and met with several of the country's religious leaders.


During the meeting with the ECOWAS representatives, Traoré pledged to respect the democratic transition timetable set by the African institution and Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, former interim president. According to the stipulated timetable, 1 July 2024 is the deadline set for a return to constitutional order. 


Traoré led the recent coup d'état, the second to hit the African nation since January 2022. The young military officer justified his actions on the grounds of "the continued degradation of the security situation" in Burkina Faso. The country, like others in the Sahel, has been mired in instability and insecurity for several years under the constant threat of jihadism, a scourge that is spreading throughout the region. The new head of state has promised to reform the armed forces and prepare them to fight extremist militias

Traoré's predecessor, Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba - who led the January coup - overthrew the then government on similar grounds. According to Damiba's pro-coup supporters, former president Roch Marc Christian Kaboré did not properly address the security situation or adequately confront terrorist groups linked to Daesh and al-Qaeda. 


After the latest uprising, Damiba formally resigned and fled to Togo two days after the coup, which was rejected by both religious and community leaders, reports AFP. An agreement with ECOWAS on democratic transition was one of Damiba's conditions for his resignation.

US warns about the Wagner group 

Following the new coup, international organisations such as the African Union, the United Nations and the European Union, as well as ECOWAS, have condemned the violence and the removal of Damiba. "The president calls on the military to immediately and totally refrain from any acts of violence or threats to the civilian population, civil liberties and human rights," the AU said in a statement. 

The United States has added its voice to these condemnations, warning the country's new leaders about the risks of allying with Russia, which in recent years has increased its presence in the Sahel through the Wagner group. "The countries where the group has been deployed are weaker and less secure, and in Africa alone we've seen that in a number of cases," said State Department spokesman Vedant Patel, quoted by AFP. Patel also urged the new military junta to "adhere to the agreed timetable to return to a democratically elected civilian government". 

The Traoré-led coup coincided with protests in the capital against the French presence in the Sahel. The protesters, who gathered near the French embassy, also called for greater military cooperation with Russia. Analysts have repeatedly warned that Moscow is exploiting anti-French sentiment in the region to gain influence, also taking advantage of insecurity and instability.