Former president Moussa Traoré of Mali has died at the age of 83, a spokesman for the current military junta confirms. Traoré was one of the longest-serving dictators on the continent, ruling the country for 23 years.
It is not clear why de Traoré died.
Traoré came to power in 1968 with a military coup against Modibo Keita, Mali’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France eight years earlier.
The president ruled until 1991, when he was himself deposed in a military coup. His rule was characterized by gross human rights violations.
Traoré survived the death penalty twice, for the murder of 106 protesters and embezzlement of money. Both sentences were commuted to life sentences. In 2002 he was granted an amnesty and continued to play a role in the background of Mali politics.
Just a month ago, a new coup took place in Mali, leading to the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
The stability in the country is under pressure, among other things, from the Tuareg uprising, which has been largely hijacked by jihadists linked to Al Qaeda since 2012. France has since had a military presence in the country, partly with the support of the Netherlands.