Mali’s former president, Amadou Toumani Touré, has died at the age of 72, a family member and a doctor said on Tuesday November 10.
“Amadou Toumani Toure died during the night of Monday to Tuesday in Turkey,” where he had been taken for health reasons, his nephew Oumar Toure told the news agency AFP.
The former army general ruled for 10 years and was celebrated for enacting democratic reforms in the West African nation, before being ousted in a military coup in 2012.
Toure came to power in 1991, when he led a coup against dictator Moussa Traore, after 22 years of hardline rule. Traore died in September 2020 at the age of 83.
Senegal President Macky Sall tweeted: “I am heartbroken to learn of the death of His Excellency Amadou Toumani Toure, former president of Mali. I salute the memory of this renowned figure and present my deepest condolences to his family and the Malian people. May he rest in peace.”
Je suis peiné d’apprendre le décès de SEM Amadou Toumani Touré, ancien Président de la République du Mali. Je salue la mémoire de l’illustre défunt et présente mes condoléances émues à sa famille et au peuple malien ami et frère. Paix à son âme.Loading...
— Macky Sall (@Macky_Sall) November 10, 2020
Touré’s life, in many ways, symbolised the stop-start nature of democracy in Mali, where his successor Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was overthrown in another coup this August.
Widely known by his initials ATT, Touré led an army coup in 1991 against Moussa Traoré after violent anti-government protests. He organised democratic elections the following year and handed over power to a civilian president, earning him the nickname of “Soldier of Democracy”.
Touré returned to the presidency in 2002, winning election with 65% of the vote, and was re-elected to a final five-year term in 2007. Touré was planning to step down when his second term expired in 2012.
During his presidency, Mali won international praise as a regional model of democracy for its regular elections, relatively free press and institutional reforms.
But his authority was weakened by high-level corruption, armed opposition in the desert north and a perception among some Malians that elections were not as free and fair as international observers suggested.
That ultimately led to the March 2012 coup by mid-ranking officers, followed by the fall of northern Mali to jihadist militants later that year.
Despite French forces’ intervention in 2013 to help the government retake the north, militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group have since expanded their foothold in Mali and other countries in the region.