Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Malians pour tributes to former leader, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

Copyright © africanews
Ludovic Marin/Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

Tributes continue to pour in after the death of Mali's former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Sunday.

Keita’s rule was riddled with lots of controversies and criticism especially from the opposition before he was toppled through a coup in 2020.

In the weeks before the 2020 coup, he had been struggling with protests fuelled by his handling of a jihadist insurgency and failure to turn around Mali's floundering economy.

Despite differences of opinion, they pay tribute to a "man of peace, a man of his word".

"His death shocks me enormously because he is our president. We fought him but he was a man of peace, a man of his word. He governed Mali and may his soul rest in peace," said Mamadou Kourouma, resident of Bamako.

"We can only pray to God that he rests in peace. He did what he could do for the country, even if he did not finish his mandate. Even so, he did what he could do," said Flamory Camara, resident of Bamako.

"Considering the way he gave himself for this country and all the effort he made... In spite of all that, we were not grateful to him. Personally, I would have liked to meet him to present him with our sincere apologies for our behavior," Souleymane Goïta, resident of Bamako.

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 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 toppled 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 ex-leader's initials, with several other family members confirming his passing.

The cause of Keita's death was not given.

In the weeks before the 2020 coup, he had been struggling with protests fuelled by his handling of a jihadist insurgency and failure to turn around Mali's floundering economy.

Snail-paced political reforms, decrepit public services and schools, and a widely shared perception of government corruption also fed anti-Keita sentiment, driving tens of thousands of protesters into 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 heading into the city, where they seized Keita and other leaders.

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

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

- Campaigning credentials -

The ruling junta would stage another coup in May 2021.

ECOWAS this month agreed to sanction Mali after the junta proposed it would to stay in power for up to five years before staging elections -- despite international demands that it respect a promise to hold the vote in February.

The son of a civil servant, Keita was born in the southern industrial city of Koutiala, the declining heartland 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 in World War I -- Keita became an adviser for the EU's overseas development fund before heading a development project in northern Mali.

He campaigned against general Moussa Traore, Mali's former president 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 a socialist prime minister between 1994 and 2000, he quelled a series of crippling strikes, earning a reputation as a firm leader and helping to set up his landslide election in 2013 -- when he finally ascended to the presidency after losing runs in 2002 and 2007.