Traoré received his military training at the French school in Fréjus. After Guinea gained its independence in 1958, he was first given command of the garrison at Koundara, then the Futa Jalon region. However, President Ahmed Sékou Touré did not trust him, so he was discharged from the army.
Traoré became a regional governor, being moved around regularly to various postings. In the late 1970s, he joined the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG, Parti Démocratique de Guinée).
At the death of Ahmed Sékou Touré in March 1984, on 3 April, Traoré supported a coup d'état led by Lieutenant Colonel Lansana Conté. The coup ousted interim President Louis Lansana Beavogui and the PDG. Conté made himself President and appointed Traoré Prime Minister. Conté, Traoré and others governed as a junta—the Military Committee of National Recovery (CMRN).
A few months later, however, Conté demoted Traoré to Minister of State for National Education. On 4 July 1985, Traoré attempted to overthrow Conté, who was attending a summit in Togo, but was quickly thwarted by loyal troops. Traoré went into hiding, but Conté's forces swiftly captured him and showed him on television being brutally assaulted. Traoré and about one hundred other military personnel, many of them also Malinké, were executed.