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Toure arrives in Senegal

21 April 2012, 10:54

Dakar - Mali's president has sought refuge in neighbouring Senegal nearly one month after the democratically elected leader was overthrown in a coup that has sparked political and humanitarian crises, Senegalese state media reported.

Amadou Toumani Toure went into hiding in late March after mutinous soldiers attacked the presidential palace. He emerged to tender his official resignation as part of an arrangement aimed at returning the country to civilian rule.

Senegalese state media reported on Friday that Toure had arrived by plane in the Senegalese capital of Dakar just before midnight along with his children, grandchildren and bodyguards.

It was not immediately clear how long they would be staying in Senegal or whether they were on their way to another location.

While on a visit to Paris earlier this week, Senegalese President Macky Sall told reporters that Toure had been staying at the Senegalese Embassy in Bamako.

Step down

Toure had a little more than a month left in office at the time of the coup. He already had planned to step down after serving the maximum two terms allowed under Mali's constitution.

"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," the 63-year-old leader told reporters earlier this month.

An interim civilian government has been established with a president and prime minister, but questions linger about the junta's willingness to leave politics and about what will happen at the end of the transitional period.

The soldiers who grabbed power claimed they did so because of Toure's mishandling of a rebellion in the north, which began in January. Toure's popularity took a nosedive because of his lack of assertiveness in the face of the mounting attacks, which inflicted large casualties on Mali's ill-equipped army.

After Toure was forced from power, the Tuareg rebels succeeded in taking the three largest towns in the north and later declared an independent state - a move swiftly condemned by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS.

- AP


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