Amadou Toumani Toure - OkayAfrica

President of Mali (L), Amadou Toumani Toure, arrives with the the African Union delegation, who will try to negotiate a truce between Gaddafi's forces and rebels seeking to oust him, April 10, 2011.

Photo by XINHUA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Former Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure Has Died

Referred to by many as a 'soldier of democracy', former Malian President, Amadou Toumani Toure, has passed away while undergoing treatment in Turkey. He was 72.

According to AFP, Former Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure passed away at the age of 72 in the early hours of this morning. The former statesman's nephew, Oumar Toure,confirmed the news that his uncle had passed away while undergoing treatment for health reasons in Turkey. Additionally, it also reported that Toure had undergone heart surgery in the capital city of Bamako shortly before leaving for Turkey.

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According to the BBC, former President Toure was referred to by many as the "soldier of democracy". A former army general, Toure first took over leading Mali back in 1991 after then leader, Moussa Traore, reportedly had more than 100 pro-democracy protesters killed by security forces. Toure was then elected into office as president in both 2002 and 2007 but was finally deposed in a military coup in 2012. He'd then spent his time in Dakar, Senegal in Exile and officially returned to Mali at the end of last year.

Toure's death comes a few months after continued anti-government protests in Mali which were calling for the resignation of the now former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. At least 11 protesters were killed in July with the international community condemning the use of lethal force against protesting citizens by the Malian government. As reported in our previous coverage, "Demonstrations began in mid-July when Malians—under the banner of the opposition group, the June 5th Movement—demonstrated against a deepening financial crisis, government corruption and conflict stemming from the ongoing separatist movement in the country."

Eventually, President Keita officially resigned mid-August after Malian army forces surrounded his home and threatened to carry out a mutiny in Bamako. Mali's new interim President Bah N'Daou, is "technically a civilian", according to the New York Times, as he is a retired military officer and former Minister of Defence who served under former President Keita. His appointment comes after regional leaders insisted that Mali return to civilian rule.