BAMAKO (Reuters) – Mali’s former military leader Moussa Traore, who overthrew his predecessor in a 1968 coup, has died at the age of 83, a spokesman for the country’s military junta said on Tuesday.
Traore ousted Modibo Keita, Mali’s first democratically elected president since the West African nation’s independence from France in 1960, and ruled until 1991 when he himself was overthrown in a military takeover.
“Yes, I can confirm that he died today,” said junta spokesman Captain Djibrilla Maiga.
Traore’s 23-year rule was marked by widespread rights abuses. In 1993, a Mali court found him guilty of the murder of 106 people who participated in the demonstrations that led to his downfall.
He was condemned to death but the sentence was later commuted, and he was pardoned in 2002.
Traore was forced out after he was arrested by soldiers following weeks of protests in March 1991.
Mali has struggled to find stability since independence, and the last decade has been marked by militant violence after a Tuareg rebellion in 2012 was hijacked by al Qaeda-linked jihadists who occupied most of the north of the country.
Former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita came to power in 2013 promising an end to the chaos. But his rule ended abruptly in a coup on Aug. 18, following months of popular protests – marking the country’s second military coup in eight years.
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Edward McAllister and Mike Collett-White)