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Mali Lawmakers Drop Treason Charges Against Ousted President

  • VOA News

FILE - Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure inspects an honor guard during a ceremonial reception at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India, Jan. 11, 2012. Mali's National Assembly rejected plans to try Toure on treason charges on Saturday.

Mali's National Assembly has voted to drop treason charges against exiled former President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was deposed in a coup in March 2012.

National Assembly spokesman Youssouf Toure said Saturday that the vote not to pursue charges had passed 104-5.

"I confirm the abandonment of the charges against him was adopted by the majority of deputies," said Mamadou Diarrassouba of the ruling RPM party.

Amadou Toumani Toure has been in exile in Senegal. The vote should allow him to return to Mali, unless other governmental action takes place.

Toure came to power in a revolution in 1991, when he was an army colonel, but he is credited with restoring democracy in Mali. He stepped down as military ruler after ushering in the landlocked country's first multiparty elections. He later resigned from the military and entered politics as a civilian, winning elections in 2002 and 2007.

The former president was overthrown shortly before he was due to leave power in 2012. Mali was becoming increasingly unstable at the time as a result of advances by separatists and Islamist militants who held most northern parts of the Saharan country.

Islamic extremists in Mali's far north implemented a strict interpretation of Islamic law in the largest towns, carrying out harsh punishments for minor infractions, but a French-led military operation broke their grip on power in 2013. Extremist remnants still remain in the north, however, and have staged occasional attacks on U.N. and Malian troops.

Treason charges against Toure stemmed from accusations that he had left the military in such a state of disarray that it could not defend Mali against foreign jihadists.

FILE - Coup leader Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo addresses the press at junta headquarters in Kati, outside Bamako, Mali, March 30, 2012.
FILE - Coup leader Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo addresses the press at junta headquarters in Kati, outside Bamako, Mali, March 30, 2012.

Late last month, Amadou Haya Sanogo, the 2012 coup leader, went on trial with 17 co-defendants, accused of kidnapping and killing members of the presidential guard, whose remains were later found in a mass grave.

Sanogo could face the death penalty if convicted. He was arrested three years ago, following discovery of the 21 corpses.

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