The president of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure, has resigned, paving the way for a return to constitutional rule after a military coup three weeks ago.
Toure, who has been in hiding since his presidential palace was looted, met with mediators from West African power bloc ECOWAS, who have also been negotiating a handover of power with the military junta.
“I think the decision taken by ECOWAS and the international community is for the best. It’s necessary that Mali continues in the provisions of its constitution of February 1992. As a consequence, I think it’s normal and I am resigning without pressure,” said Toure.
Taking over from Toure is the head of the National Assembly, Dioncounda Traoré, who will serve as Interim President.
Toure only had a few months left of his term as elections had been scheduled for April. It is uncertain whether voting will take place so soon due to the situation in the north caused by Tuareg separatists, who have declared their independence.
The power vacuum caused by the coup allowed the rebels to seize ground. There are fears this could lead to a strengthening of Islamist terrorists and some Malians are fleeing south.