Toppled Malian president resigns

 

From one of the hiding places where he has been holed up since last month's coup, Mali's president penned a resignation letter and handed it to an emissary to deliver to the country's new leaders, while reporters looked on.

The move paves the way for Mali to name a new interim president, the next step in the nation's return to democratic rule.

President Amadou Toumani Toure was just months from finishing his last term, when soldiers on March 21 stormed the presidential palace, sending Mr Toure into hiding and cancelling a democratic tradition stretching back more than two decades.

Under intense international pressure, however, the officers that seized power last month signed an accord on Friday, agreeing to return the country to constitutional rule.

They did so after much of the capital, Bamako, only had 12 hours of electricity a day, a result of the severe financial sanctions imposed by the nation's neighbouring Mali, including the closure of the country's borders, which made it impossible for landlocked Mali to import fuel.

The accord signed by the leader of the March 21 coup called for the application of Article 36 of Mali's constitution.

The article states that in the event the president is unable to serve out his term, the head of the national assembly becomes interim president for a transitional period, before new elections can be held.

For that article to be able to be applied properly, however, Mali's constitutional court needed to confirm that the president cannot carry out his term.

Reporters from state television and French television station France 24 were allowed to film President Toure at a villa in the ACI 2000 neighbourhood of the capital where he has been hiding.

Looking thinner than before, the 63-year-old leader appeared in a flowing white robe and traditional bonnet. He said he was resigning of his own accord.

"I am doing this without any pressure, and I am doing this in good faith, and I am doing it especially out of love for my country. I have decided to hand in my resignation letter," Mr Toure said.

His resignation will allow the court to declare the vacancy of power, paving the way for the head of the national assembly, Dioncounda Traore, to become interim president, as called for in the constitution.

The soldiers who grabbed power 17 days ago claimed they did so because of President Toure's mishandling of a rebellion in the north, which began in January.

Mr Toure's popularity took a nosedive because of his lack of assertiveness in the face of the mounting attacks, which inflicted large casualties on Mali's ill-equipped army.

The ethnic Tuareg rebels had succeeded in taking a dozen small towns, but it was only after Mr Toure was forced from power that the insurgents succeeded in taking the three largest towns in the north.

Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu all fell last weekend, and on Friday, the same day that the junta declared they were stepping down, the rebels declared their independence.

The loss of the northern half of the country, an area larger than France, has plunged Mali into crisis.

The fighters are divided between a secular group and an Islamist faction that wants to impose Shariah law in Mali's moderate north. Already, women in the three cities have been forbidden to go out without veils.

It is unclear which of the factions has the upper hand, though increasingly it appears that Ansar Dine, the Islamist group, has greater sway.

Yesterday, residents attempting to flee Gao said they saw Islamist fighters cut the throat of a gunman, who is assumed to belong to the secular rebel group.

Dramane Maiga, a transport company employee, said a bus loaded with fleeing residents was driven off the road at the exit to Gao by Tuareg fighters.

Mr Maiga said the fighters were assumed to belong to the secular faction, known as the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, or NMLA.

Mr Maiga said the Islamists had handed out a hotline number and encouraged residents to call if they were in trouble, apparently in an effort to instil confidence in the local population.

He said that as soon as the bus was driven off the road, people began calling the number, and the Islamists arrived 30 minutes later.

Mr Maiga said that he saw the Islamists cut the throat of one of the Tuareg fighters, while shouting Allah Akbar, or God is Great, in Arabic.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission, Benefits, OTE £100k: SThree: ...

Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

£32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

£27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine