Mali's former president Amadou Toumani Toure dies at 72

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FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 file photo, President of Mali Amadou Toumani Toure gestures after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the chancellory in Berlin, Germany. Mali's former president Amadou Toumani Toure, who served as Mali's president from 2002 until March 2012 when he was deposed by a military coup, has died at the age of 72, according to Senegal's President Macky Sall on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

BAMAKO – Mali’s former president Amadou Toumani Toure has died at the age of 72.

Mali’s transitional President Bah N’Daw confirmed Toure’s death on Tuesday in a statement in which he offered his condolences to the family.

N’Daw said Toure was a major player in Malian democracy, and “contributed to shaping the face of modern Mali,” by supporting the development of roads, bridges, schools, health centers, water and electricity.

“His imprint will remain strong, his voice will always resonate, and his patriotism will always be commended in its own right,” he said in a statement.

Toure served as Mali’s president from 2002 until March 2012 when he was deposed by a military coup. He then lived in exile in the neighboring West African nation of Senegal until December 2019 when he returned to Mali.

Toure died Monday night while he was hospitalized in Turkey, according to a family member who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not yet authorized to speak to the press. The former Malian president had undergone heart surgery in Bamako before being evacuated to Turkey, said the relative.

Born in Mali’s central Mopti region in 1948, Toure later became a lieutenant-colonel in Mali’s army. He was appointed the head of the transitional committee after a 1991 coup d’etat that deposed former president Moussa Traore and served as the head of state during the transition to democracy. He then became known as the “soldier of democracy.”

Toure then served as a general under Mali’s president Alpha Oumar Konare, who was elected in 1992. In 2002, he resigned from the army to run for president and defeated Soumaila Cisse in a second round of votes.