Toure, Amadou Toumani


Toure, Amadou Toumani
▪ 2003

      Observers were not surprised to find that Amadou Toumani Touré (affectionately known as ATT) had won Mali's May 2002 presidential elections. As only the second elected president since Mali became independent in 1960, and as one of the few African leaders voluntarily to have relinquished power, he had not lost the goodwill of the people, although he had been away from the political limelight for almost 10 years.

      Touré was born in Mopti, French Sudan (now in eastern Mali), in 1948. Educated first to be a teacher, he joined the army in 1969 and received military training in France and the U.S.S.R. At one time he was a member of the Presidential Guard in Mali, but he had a falling out with the president, Gen. Moussa Traoré, and lost this position.

      Touré first came to international prominence in 1991 as the leader of a coup that toppled Traoré (who had himself come to power in 1968 in a coup against Modibo Keita). Touré's coup was generally welcomed owing to Traoré's repressive policies, which had led to popular unrest in the early 1990s. It seemed to many that ATT had acted in the name of the people and brought democracy to the country. Be this as it may, the pro-democracy forces in the country lost little time in removing Touré. Presidential elections were held, and ATT was retired as president on June 8, 1992.

      For the next decade ATT occupied himself with nonmilitary activities, mostly concerned with public health. In 1992 he became the head of Mali's Intersectoral Committee for Guinea Worm Eradication, and he was also associated with campaigns to eliminate polio and other childhood diseases as well as working for the control of AIDS in Africa, often collaborating with the Carter Center, the nonprofit humanitarian organization run by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter. ATT also was active in trying to resolve the disputes in the Great Lakes region (Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

      In preparation for the presidential elections, Touré resigned from the armed forces in September 2001. In order to take his message to all parts of Mali, he—like the other major candidates, all former government officials—spent millions of dollars to travel by air to campaign stops. Ultimately, Touré, running as an independent, prevailed in the second round of elections. Democracy seemed to be working well in Mali, but ATT would have his hands full trying to retain his popularity when he was forced to make the tough decisions that face a democratically elected president.

Pamela L. Smith-Irowa

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Universalium. 2010.

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