A former President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was overthrown by the military from power in 2020 after ruling for seven years, has died, officials said on Sunday.
He was 76.
Keita, known as IBK, governed Mali between September 2013 and August 2020. During this period Islamist insurgents overran many areas, draining his popularity.
With Mali’s economy in freefall coupled with disputed legislative elections and rumours of corruption fuelling public anger, tens of thousands of Malians stormed the streets in Bamako in 2020 demanding that he step down.
He was finally ousted by a coup, whose leaders still rule Mali despite strong international opposition.
“Very saddened to learn of the death of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita,” tweeted Mali’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdoulaye Diop. “It is with great emotion that I bow before his memory.”
As of yet, there was no information about the cause of death. According to his former advisor, he died at home.
After the coup, Keita was detained and held under house arrest, but the restrictions were lifted under pressure from the West African ECOWAS political bloc.
In 2013, Keita, who wears white flowing robes and slurs his words, won a resounding election victory. He vowed to tackle the corruption that undermined support for his predecessor Amadou Toumani Toure, who was also ousted in a coup.
The tough line he took with striking trade unions in the 1990s helped him build a reputation for firmness. However, his tenure was marred from the start by a security crisis caused by al Qaeda-linked jihadists terrorizing the desert north.
From the beginning, Keita’s presidency was clouded by allegations of corruption.
Nearly $70 million in financing was frozen in 2014 after the International Monetary Fund opposed a $40 million presidential jet and a separate military supply loan.