President of Mali
Amadou Toumani Touré, President of Mali (Deposed in a military coup on Mar 22, 2012. Capt. Dioncounda Traoré becomes Interim President)
Born Amadou Toumani Toure c. 1948 in Mpoti, Mali.
Education: Received training as history and geography teacher in Bamako, graduated 1969; attended Ecole Militaire Interarmes, 1969-72; received further military training in Riazan, Soviet Union and Pau, France; attended Ecole Superieur de Guerre, Paris, 1990.
Politics: Supporter of constitutional democracy.
Armed forces of Mali, lieutenant, 1972-78; 33rd parachute battalion, captain, 1978-84, became commander of battalion, 1985-90; promoted to lieutenant colonel, 1986; served as commander of the presidential guard for eight years, c. 1978-86; acting Head of State, Transition Committee for the Salvation of the People, 1991-92; oversaw Mali’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program, 1992; member of facilitators to regional initiative on Rwanda and Burundi, 1996; head of International Follow-Up Committee on peace in the Central African Republic, 1997; head of Inter-African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements, 1997-.
Approachable, modest, soft-spoken, and avuncular are not terms that usually describe the leaders of military coups. However, these words are often associated with Amadou Toure, an officer in the West African nation of Mali who led a rebellion that ousted longtime dictator Moussa Traore in 1991. Known affectionately as “ATT,” Toure was popular as a revolutionary, popular as an interim president, and remains popular as a regional diplomat on a mission of peace throughout central Africa.
Toure was born in either 1943 or 1948 in Mpoti, Mali. After receiving his early education at local schools, he moved to Mali’s capital, Bamako, to receive training as a history and geography teacher. After graduating in 1969, Toure decided to embark on a military career rather than become a schoolteacher. He entered the Ecole Militaire Interarmes, a military academy in Kati, from which he graduated in 1972 as a lieutenant. Toure became a parachute instructor. Following further specialized training in Riazan in the former Soviet Union and in Pau, France, he was promoted to captain of the 33rd Parachute Battalion in 1978.
Toure’s rise through the ranks of the Malian military continued into the 1980s. He served for eight years as commander of the Presidential Guard. In 1986, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In April of 1990, Toure was sent for advanced military training to the Ecole Superieur de Guerre, a special war school in Paris, and remained there until December. Expecting a better job upon his return, Toure was disappointed when he was not immediately offered a promotion. After a few months, he was called upon to command his former battalion. This treatment embittered Toure and contributed to his growing dissatisfaction with the Malian government.
In the meantime, the Malian people were also tiring of dictator Moussa Traore’s oppressive regime. What began as peaceful protests throughout the country began to erupt into violent clashes between civilians and members of the armed forces. These clashes resulted in the deaths of hundreds of protesters. By early 1991, Toure’s loyalties had shifted away from Traore completely. He was quoted in Who’s Who in Africa: Leaders for the 1990s as saying that he was “really ashamed of being an army officer.” Toure also explained that “Moussa no longer served the interests of the country. He was opportunist, a total nepotist, a flatterer who made huge mistakes.”
In January of 1991, Toure began planning a coup to overthrow Traore, taking advantage of a major protest march in Bamako to begin organizing a strike force. With popular sentiment on his side, Toure was able to convince other senior officers to join him. Following several days of rioting in Bamako by trade unionists, students, and masses of unemployed people, Toure led an uprising that brought down Traore and his government on March 26, 1991. Traore was arrested, and Toure became head of the transitional government of Mali.
Toure’s coup was enthusiastically supported by most Malians. Sensing that the people of Mali did not want another military dictatorship, Toure quickly promised that power would be handed over to a democratically-elected civilian government within one year. A Council of National Reconciliation was formed, comprised of 16 senior officers who had participated in the coup, with Toure as its leader. The Council immediately opened a dialog with the leaders of Mali’s pro-democracy opposition. As Toure told the Reuters news service, “We can’t talk about opposition–we’re working amongst brother Malians. We want everyone to participate in this work of national importance.”
Upon assuming control of the government, Toure moved quickly to address Mali’s many problems, including severe poverty and an ongoing revolt by the Tuareg people in northern Mali. In April of 1992, after months of negotiations, Toure and the Tuareg leaders signed a National Pact that effectively ended the rebellion. In addition, Toure began preparations for turning power over to a civilian government. His transitional government approved a new constitution on January 12, 1992, and within a week, municipal elections were held. Legislative elections took place over the next two months. A presidential election followed in April of 1992, with Alpha Oumar Konare of the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA) emerging as the winner. Toure left office on June 8, 1992.
Mali’s transition from a military to a civilian government was astonishingly smooth. Konare, a well-known and charismatic figure, was able to follow Toure into the presidency without a significant loss of public support. Toure, meanwhile, was promoted to the rank of general. Shortly after stepping down as president, he took command of Mali’s Guinea Worm Eradication Program, securing $1 million for the project from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In addition to his work in Mali, Toure has established himself as an important regional diplomat, taking part in peacemaking efforts throughout Africa. In 1996, he served on a facilitating team created to address a number of regional problems, particularly the ethnic conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi. The team included such high-profile figures as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
As a member of the Carter Foundation, Toure spearheaded the organization of a peace summit in Tunisia aimed at forging an international solution to the many land disputes within Africa. In 1997, Toure turned his attention to the Central African Republic, where he led the International Follow-Up Committee that successfully negotiated a cease-fire between government and rebel factions there. His work on these “Bangui Agreements” continued into 1998, as he lobbied the United Nations for financial aid that would improve conditions within the Central African Republic.
As interim leader of Mali, Toure proved to be a man of his word and faithfully steered Mali on the path to democracy. His continued efforts to bring peace and stability to Africa’s volatile political landscape are greatly appreciated by Malians and all people of goodwill.