Tue. Feb 27th, 2024
Ngozi James

Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, the former president of Mali who was elected in 2013 in the wake of a coup and then ousted by the military after a turbulent seven-year rule, died Jan. 16 at his home in Bamako, the capital. He was 76 and had been in poor health in recent years.

The state broadcaster, ORTM, announced his death but did not share information about the cause. His death came a week after West African leaders moved to close borders and cut off trade with the country, in response to an announcement from Mali’s transitional government that a new presidential election would not be held until 2026.

Known by his initials IBK, Mr. Keïta was seized by Malian soldiers and forced to step down in August 2020, with three years left in his second term. He appeared in a late-night broadcast on state television announcing that he would resign to avoid bloodshed in the West African nation.

Mr. Keïta had deep links to France, the country’s former colonial ruler, and had been involved in Malian politics since democratic rule returned in the early 1990s. He served as prime minister for six years and founded his own political party, Rally for Mali, before unsuccessfully running for president in 2002 and 2007.

By then, the country had become known as a bastion of democracy in West Africa, with a vibrant music scene and history that brought tourists to the ancient city of Timbuktu. That image began to fracture after the 2011 collapse of Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi’s regime, which led militants to stream across the border with weapons.

Survivors include his wife, Aminata Maïga Keïta, and four children, according to the Associated Press.

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