Ousted Malian president to return from exile
Mali's ousted former president Amadou Toumani Toure will return to the country on Sunday for the first time since the coup that deposed him, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said.
Mutinous soldiers overthrew the government and detained Toure on March 22, 2012, precipitating the fall of the country's northern territory to Islamist rebels allied with Al-Qaeda.
The coup led by army captain Amadou Sanogo toppled what had been heralded as one of the region's most stable democracies, and Toure has been living in exile in neighbouring Senegal ever since.
"The moment has arrived for us to tell our younger brother Amadou Toumani Toure to return to Mali. He left power legally," Keita said at a public event in Bamako on Friday.
"I will send a state plane to fetch him and bring him back to Mali," Keita added, describing how he had invited the ex-leader for lunch on Sunday.
Toure was accused by Keita's government of treason over the failure of soldiers to tackle a rebellion led by Tuareg people that eventually led to jihadists trying to takeover the country. The charges were dropped last year.
Islamist militants took control of northern cities in Mali in March and April 2012 but were chased out by a French-led military operation launched in January 2013, which is still under way.
Mali's army, French soldiers and a UN mission (MINUSMA) have little control of large tracts of the country, which regularly come under attack in spite of a peace accord signed with Tuareg leaders in May and June 2015, aimed at isolating the jihadists.