Assessing Burkina Faso’s coup leader Ibrahim Traoré’s first year in office

Being appointed as leader of Burkina Faso last year, 6th October 2022, today marks one year in power for President Traoré. His first year is characterized by a lot of success good measures for the people, and crucial foreign policy decisions that could be significant in the long term for West Africa and Africa as a whole.

Friday, 6 October 2023 marked a year in power for President Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso, having staged a coup to address the security challenges of his country.

His first year has seen a range of actions that have seen the improvement in the livelihoods of Burkinabés and an increase in foreign policy developments, according to experts.

Due to his accomplishments, he is being compared to Thomas Sankara, a Burkinabè military officer, Marxist revolutionary and Pan-Africanist who served as president of Burkina Faso from his coup in 1983 to his assassination in 1987.

Sankara was seen as a visionary in his own time, and President Traoré is seen to be following in his footsteps. According to a Demonstrator, Aicha Ouegraogo, “There have been a lot of changes, there are less attacks, less displaced people, and he’s taking a path that’s really close to my heart.”

Some of the notable decisions he has taken so far are to opt out of the presidential pay rate and maintain his former pay rate as a captain of the Burkina Faso army.

To slowly dispel Burkina Faso’s ties with France, he annulled the military agreement between France and Burkina Faso and expelled French Ambassador Luc Hallade. He suspended some French media outlets like Jeune Afrique, France24 and Radio France International.

President Traoré has also welcomed partnerships with Russia, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He has also strengthened the alliance with neighbouring Mali and Niger by forming the Alliance of Sahel States.

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, the foundation for forming the Alliance of Sahel States is to have a united front in dealing with “any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracting parties” which “shall be considered as aggression.”

President Traoré has also shown strong allyship to Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goïta, who has encouraged a Pan-African federation which welcomes all states who wish to join.

Amid the wave of coups in Africa in just the last three years, President Traoré’s leadership has benefitted many Burkinabés. However, his recent partnerships with Russia and forming a mutual defence pact, the Alliance of Sahel states, may present some geopolitical implications that regional blocs such as ECOWAS and the African Union must consider to ensure a sustainable Africa.


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