It is sadness that I learned of the passing of Amadou Toumani Touré, one of the former presidents of Mali. Affectionately known by his initials, A.T.T. has been deemed the “soldier of democracy” when after taking power, he handed over the power to the elected president Alpha Oumar Konaré.
ATT was born in 1948 in Mopti, a city which lies west of the Dogon Plateau and northwest of the famous Bandiagara region and north-northeast of the legendary Djenné. He later went to Bamako, and joined the Parachute Corps in the army, where he rose to be the commander of the parachute commandos in 1984. ATT was head of President Moussa Traoré‘s personal guard (and parachute regiment). In March 1991, after the violent suppression of anti-government demonstrations, Conférence Nationale Souveraine movements that shook multiple countries in Africa, turned into a popular revolution, the armed forces refused to fire any longer on the Malian people and Touré arrested President Moussa Traoré. He presided over a year-long military-civilian transition process that led to a new Constitution and multiparty elections, and then handed the power over to Mali’s first democratically-elected president, Alpha Oumar Konaré, on 6 June 1992. Konaré promoted Touré to the rank of General. It is after this that people started affectionately calling him the “soldier of the democracy.”
Ten years later, after an early retirement from the army, Touré entered politics as a civilian and won the 2002 presidential election with a broad coalition of support. He was easily re-elected in 2007 to a second and final term. His presidency was non-conventional as he belonged to no political party, and his government always included people from all parties. On 22 March 2012, shortly before the end of his mandate, disgruntled soldiers initiated a coup d’état that forced him into hiding. These soldiers were mad about the government’s inability to stop the fighting in the north of the country by jihadists (2012 insurgency in northern Mali). As part of the agreement to restore constitutional order to Mali, Touré resigned from the presidency on 8 April 2012 and eleven days later he went into exile.
As you can see, this was a man of integrity! When then president Traoré asked the army to keep firing at the Malian people, he stood up and said ‘NO’. He took power, and steered the country towards its first democratic elections. Then he stepped down. Later, he won the presidential election with a coalition, and served 2 mandates. When in 2012 there was a coup against him, he resigned, and left the office. It will be good if the leaders in some of our banana republics (PB, SN, FG, ID, ADO, AC, AB, …) could do this; and more importantly if France could just leave these places!!! But like Thomas Sankara said, «… l’esclave qui n’est pas capable d’assumer sa révolte ne mérite pas que l’on s’apitoie sur son sort. Cet esclave répondra seul de son malheur s’il se fait des illusions sur la condescendance suspecte d’un maître qui prétend l’affranchir. Seule la lutte libère… » [“… the slave who is not capable of assuming his rebellion does not deserve that we feel sorry for himself. This slave will respond only to his misfortune if he is deluding himself about the suspect condescension of a master who claims to free him. Only struggle liberates … “]