Traore seized power in a military coup in 1968, eight years after Mali gained independence from France. He ruled the country as its military leader until 1979 when he installed himself as civilian president of a one-party state. He was the sole presidential candidate in elections held in 1985. Traore was eventually ousted in a coup in 1991 after days of violent protests amid unrest over years of economic decline.
His death comes nearly a month after military leaders in Mali staged a coup on Aug. 18, deposing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who had three years left in his second term in office.