Amadou Toumani Toure, Mali’s former president, who led the Sahel nation to democracy and led it for a decade before being ousted by a coup, died in Turkey at the age of 72, a family member and a doctor said on Tuesday.
His nephew Oumar Toure told AFP that Toure had “died in Turkey during the night from Monday to Tuesday,” where he had been taken for health reasons.
A Bamako doctor said that the former leader had recently undergone heart surgery at the Luxembourg City Hospital, which he had helped to create.
While “all seemed to be going well,” for medical reasons, Toure was later transferred to Turkey, the doctor said.
“Very recently, he took a routine flight to Turkey. He died, sadly, overnight,’ said the source.
In 1991, Toure, a former soldier, first took over the nation for a year, helping to topple the unpopular Moussa Traore dictatorship, which had been in power since 1968.
After the coup, he took the helm of a transitional committee, exercising the duties of head of state and directing the nation to elections, won by Alpha Oumar Konare, the first democratically elected president in the history of post-independence Mali, in 1992.
Universally identified as ATT by his initials, in 2002 and again in 2007, Toure won presidential elections.
In 2012, however, he was overthrown by rebel soldiers who accused him of not supporting their fight against both Tuareg rebels and jihadist insurgents.
For the poorly-equipped and demoralized army of Mali, the chaos that followed was enormously destructive.
Before being forced out in 2013 by French intervention, the jihadists quickly overran the north of the country.
They then regrouped and expanded into central Mali, a region of flashpoints where bloody ethnic conflict was ignited, and then advanced into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Thousands died and hundreds of thousands fled from their homes.
A new chapter was written in August this year in Mali’s tale of persistent turmoil when, after mounting demonstrations, the military expelled the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
Some of the officers involved in this coup were also active in the overthrow of Toure, including No. 2, Colonel Malick Daw of the current regime.
Pressured by the neighbors of Mali, a transitional presidency and government were set up by the putschists and promised to return to civilian rule within 18 months.