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Mali's Toppled President Officially Steps Down

Benjamin Gottlieb |
April 8, 2012 | 10:06 p.m. PDT

Executive Editor

Former Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure (Photo courtesy of the European Parliament via Creative Commons).
Former Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure (Photo courtesy of the European Parliament via Creative Commons).
Former Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure officially penned his resignation letter Monday, paving the way for the country to name an interim president en route to restore democratic rule.

"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," Toure told the Associated Press.

Toure was just months away from finishing his last term in office when troops stormed Mali's presidential palace on March 21, sending Toure into hiding. The military coup interrupted a democratic tradition more than two decades old in Mali, according to the AP.

More from the AP:

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 only had 12 hours of electricity a day, a result of the severe financial sanctions imposed by the nation's neighboring Mali, including the closure of the country's borders, which made it impossible for landlocked Mali to import fuel.

Toure's departure is marked by a well-anticipated food crisis, set to hit millions in Africa's Sahel region -- the geographic are separating the Sahara Desert with Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 200,000 Malians have already fled their homes from the northern part of the country, driven by food shortages, Reuters reported.

From Reuters:

Neighboring states meeting to discuss turmoil in Mali's north, a major reason for the military's ousting of Toure, said they would seek dialogue with the northern rebels, a mix of Tuareg separatists and Islamists with links to al Qaeda, but warned they would consider military intervention if it failed.

The twin crises - a coup in the capital that led to a rebel seizure of vast tracts of the north - have threatened Mali's previous reputation for democracy and widened a security void that regional and Western nations fear will exacerbate regional instability, terrorism and smuggling.

For more background on the Malian coup, click here.



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