Dioncounda Traore, the Mali parliamentary head who was exiled following the military coup last month, returned to the country as interim president Saturday after the rebel leader, Army Capt. Amadou Sanogo, agreed to reinstate constitutional rule.
I am leaving for Mali with my heart full of hope. My country has known enormous difficulties, but I am leaving with the hope the people of Mali will come together to face this adversity head on, Traore told reporters while boarding a Mali-bound flight in neighboring Burkina Faso, the Associated Press said.
Traore, 70, was in Burkina Faso when Sanogo and his rebel army stormed the presidential palace March 21, deposing President Amadou Toure and dissolving the constitution after 20 years of democratic rule.
In response, neighboring countries imposed sanctions on Mali, freezing financial assets and restricting fuel shipments into the landlocked country. Facing intense pressure as Mali citizens lined up for hours outside banks and gas stations, and as the capital Bamako's electrical grid functioned at half its capacity, Sanogo signed an accord Friday, agreeing to reinstate the nation's 1992 constitution.
The accord called for the immediate application of the Malian constitution's Article 36, which states that if the president is unable to carry out the duties of his office, then the head of parliament becomes the interim president until a new one is elected.
With Traore's return as interim president, sanctions were lifted by the Economic Community of West African Nations, or Ecowas.
Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo has launched the process to put into effect Article 36 of the Constitution of Feb. 25, 1992, allowing thereby a return to constitutional order in Mali, said Adama Bictogo, Ivory Coast's minsters of African integration, AP reported. As a result, the president of Ecowas ... has decided to immediately lift all the sanctions against Mali.
The current whereabouts of deposed President Toure are unknown, although he is believed to be within Mali's borders under the protection of a loyalist faction of the military.
The nation's political turmoil is tied to an insurgency among the Tuareg ethnic group, which declared independence from Mali, claiming the northern half of the country for itself. Ecowas has not recognized the Tuareg state, and it has left open the possibility of military intervention.
In what concerns the armed rebellion in the north of Mali, Bictogo told AP, [we] demand the strict respect of Mali's territorial integrity. In this regard, the committee of the heads of state of Ecowas, which met on April 5, 2012, has taken all the necessary preparatory measures for a rapid deployment of troops by Ecowas in order to stop any further evolution.