Amadou Toumani Touré was born on Nov. 4, 1948, in Mopti, in central Mali, and grew up in Timbuktu, in the north. He began his career as a teacher, but joined the army in 1969, and later received military training in France and the Soviet Union.
As an army officer commanding the country’s paratroop battalion in March 1991, Mr. Touré led the effort to topple the military regime of Moussa Traoré, who had been in power since 1968 and whose suppression of protests had led to the deaths of dozens of demonstrators that month.
Mr. Touré became Mali’s interim head of state, a position he held for over a year, between 1991 and 1992, foiling a coup attempt and steering the country to its first democratic presidential election since it won independence in 1960.
“We must accept to try a new experience, the experience of democracy, the experience of a multiparty system,” Mr. Touré said in a televised interview in 1991, in which he vowed to protect the democratic transition of power.
Mr. Touré won praise in Mali for keeping his promise and swiftly handing power to Alpha Oumar Konaré, who won the 1992 presidential election. “Mali will remember A.T.T. as the ‘soldier of democracy,’ the army official who passed the baton to the first democratically elected president of Mali,” Mr. Samassékou said.
Mr. Touré was named a general, but in the decade that followed he mostly stayed away from Mali’s political scene, creating a humanitarian foundation for children’s health and working on campaigns against polio and AIDS. Mr. Touré fought to control the parasitic Guinea worm alongside former President Jimmy Carter’s efforts from the U.S., and in 2001, he briefly served as a special envoy for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan after a coup in the Central African Republic.
Later that year, Mr. Touré resigned from the Malian military to undertake his own run for president.