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

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
News
i100
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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album