Reuters

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali's national assembly has overwhelmingly voted to drop charges of high treason against former president Amadou Toumani Toure in a decision that should allow him to return from exile in Senegal.

 

The move late on Friday was expected given that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita often praises Toure. It advances the rehabilitation of a former leader widely seen as having helped to establish democracy in the West African country.

 

"I confirm the abandonment of the charges against him was adopted by the majority of deputies," said Mamadou Diarrassouba of the ruling RPM party on Saturday. Toure has not made clear whether he intends to play any further role in Mali's politics.

 

Colonel Toure came to power in a revolution in 1991 and presided over a rapid transition before handing power to President Alpha Oumar Konare a year later after the country's first multi-party election.

 

Konare promoted him to the rank of general but he resigned from the army and won elections in 2002 and 2007. He was deposed shortly before he was due to leave power in 2012 at a time when separatists and Islamist militants seized the country's north.

French forces drove the separatists and militants back a year later but militants have since reorganized and launched dozens of attacks in recent months.

The then-government charged Toure with high treason in 2013 for letting armed groups into the country, destroying military equipment and making dubious promotions.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Dale Hudson)