Former Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has died at the age of 76

Mali’s former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who led the West African country from 2013 until he was ousted in a coup in 2020, died at the age of 76 in Bamako on Sunday, his family said.

Keita was two years into his second five-year term when in 2020 he faced widespread street protests against his government and was overthrown by the military, which is now under regional sanctions for failing to restore civilian rule.

“President IBK died this morning at 0900 GMT in his home” in Bamako, a family member told AFP, using the former leader’s initials; several other family members confirmed his death.

The cause of Keita’s death was not stated.

In the weeks leading up to the 2020 coup, he had struggled with protests fueled by his handling of a jihadist uprising and the failure to turn Mali’s troubled economy.

Snail-style political reforms, dilapidated public services and schools, and a widely shared view of government corruption also fueled anti-Keita sentiment and drove tens of thousands of protesters to the streets.

Keita was forced out of office on August 18, 2020 by young military officers who staged an uprising at a base near Bamako before entering the city, where they arrested Keita and other leaders.

Under pressure from the West African bloc ECOWAS, the junta that emerged from the uprising released Keita on August 27 and returned him to his home in Bamako, under surveillance.

He suffered a mini-stroke the following month and was sent to the United Arab Emirates for treatment.

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The ruling junta would carry out another coup in May 2021.

ECOWAS this month agreed to sanction Mali after the junta proposed that it remain in power for up to five years before the election – despite international demands to respect a promise to hold the vote in February.

The son of an official, Keita was born in the southern industrial city of Koutiala, the declining heart of cotton production.

After studying literature in Mali, Senegal and France – his great-grandfather was a French colonial soldier who died in the Battle of Verdun during World War I – Keita became an adviser to the EU’s Overseas Development Fund before leading a development project in northern Mali.

He campaigned against General Moussa Traore, Mali’s former president, who was ousted in 1991 by a military coup.

He then rose through the ranks under Alpha Oumar Konare, the country’s first democratically elected president.

As Socialist Prime Minister between 1994 and 2000, he suspended a series of devastating strikes, gained a reputation as a permanent leader and helped establish his landslide election in 2013 – when he finally rose to the presidency after losing candidates in 2002 and 2007.


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