The Sudanese Republic and Senegal became independent of France in 1960 as the Mali Federation. When Senegal withdrew after only a few months, what formerly made up the Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali. Rule by dictatorship was brought to a close in 1991 by a military coup that ushered in a period of democratic rule. President Alpha KONARE won Mali's first two democratic presidential elections in 1992 and 1997. In keeping with Mali's two-term constitutional limit, he stepped down in 2002 and was succeeded by Amadou TOURE, who was elected to a second term in 2007 elections that were widely judged to be free and fair. A military coup overthrew the government in March 2012, claiming that the government had not adequately supported the Malian army's fight against an advancing Tuareg-led rebellion in the north. Heavy international pressure forced coup leaders to accelerate the transition back to democratic rule and, to that end, Dioncounda TRAORE was installed as interim president on 12 April 2012: Source: World Factbook
Members of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat—GSPC), a terrorist group seeking to overthrow the Algerian government and reportedly linked to Al Qaeda, took shelter in the far north of Mali in mid-2003 along with their 15 European hostages. The government assisted in securing the release of the hostages, thus earning considerable good will from the U.S. government, which has since provided both economic aid and military training. In general, the Malian government has been vocal in its support of the U.S.-led war on terrorism in the early to mid-2000s. In March 2004, Mali announced its intention of increasing counterterrorism cooperation with Algeria, Chad, and Niger. In the face of continued activity by the GSPC in 2004, including some armed clashes with Malian military forces, Mali has increased military patrols in the region. Source: Country Profile Mali, Library of Congress.