Mali: Amadou Toumani Touré, precursor of the African democratic spring

Amadou Toumani Touré has just bowed out at 72, in Istanbul, on the banks of the Bosphorus. The former Malian president had undergone heart surgery in Bamako before being evacuated to Turkey. A native of Mopti, this soldier revealed himself to the Malian nation and to Africa as a whole in March 1991 by overthrowing President Moussa Traoré, who died two months ago following a popular uprising.

At the head of the Transition Committee for the Salvation of the People, ATT organized the sovereign national conference, from July 29 to August 12, 1991, followed by legislative and presidential elections in 1992. Democratic Mali had just inaugurated the African spring, by Harmattan winds that will gradually spread to Benin, Togo, DRC, Congo, Gabon, in an unprecedented movement that brings together the future Arab Spring of the period 2010-2013.

Mali in the early 1990s seemed to be off to a good start with democratically elected President Alpha Omar Konaré and a people united around the republican ideal. President ATT would return later, truncating the uniform for the Sahelian boubou, to be elected president of Mali in 2002 in March 2012 in what constitutes one of the few gaps in the country’s prosperity since Mansa Moussa. During this decade, interchanges emerged from the ground and roads were built while the cultural influence of the restored Mandé attracted intellectuals and artists from all over the world. But ATT’s last term was abruptly interrupted 45 days from its term by the soldier as yet another Tuareg rebellion, magnified by opportunist alliances between drug trafficking networks and Islamists, progressed at great speed towards Bamako.

What to remember from Amadou Toumani Touré? The soldier of democracy or the moderate president, follower of the palaver tree, who sealed the Algiers Accord1 which sees a large part of its territory demilitarized and handed over to the militias? The unconditional ally of Gaddafi who has not made a careful reading of the consequences of the fall of his financial mentor who recruited the forces of the Malians of the North? The wise African leader who knows the real balance of power between his rebellious North and the legal country?

In any case, once Libya is shattered by the France, Great Britain and USA coalition, in the name of a UN resolution on the protection of Benghazi, the Malian “mercenaries” will return to the fold, en masse, -, with arms and baggage and will be welcomed with open arms by President Touré and Mali as a whole. Fatal error ?

In fact, ATT embodied a certain idea of ​​the African country, a republic of villages and tribes, cemented by compromise and cola. Mali is precisely a country with many faces whose weakness lies in a permanent contradiction between its mosaic of desert and savannah peoples and, on the other hand, a Jacobin State, centralized and little adept at good governance, reduced to a capital.

From Dakar, where he went into exile after the coup d’etat that overthrew him, President ATT has seen his successor, Ibrahima Boubacar Keita, a luxury enthusiast, face the same realities accentuated by a nameless bamboula. Once back in Mali, the soldier of democracy was able to contemplate closely the rust of the Malian democratic edifice. In the same way that he overthrew Moussa Traoré in March 1991, a new junta has come to embellish IBK in a movement of popular protests driven by the same demands as those of thirty years ago. ATT dies as Mali is engulfed in yet another transition, an eternal restart, an endless film, funded by donors and goodwill.


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