MALI'S military head of state, Lt. Col. Amadou Tumani Toure, is popular among students, politicians, and diplomats. An independent newspaper, Les Echos, named him man of the year for 1991, calling him "frank, direct, but humble and modest."
Asked why he led last year's coup against President Moussa Traore, he says:
"Faced with many young and old people and children that were dying, we felt that Mr. Moussa Traore had not respected the oath the head of state had taken. We decided to take him out, to put in place democratic organizations."
Unlike most African military leaders, Colonel Toure promises to step down after presidential elections this spring.
"My most dear vow is that I am not a candidate, and I prefer that elections take place and [the people] elect a civilian as head of state," he said in a recent Monitor interview here.
Malians and diplomats say they believe him.
Still, certain conditions, Toure says, might require him to remain in office or the military to resume control.
If there are ethnic conflicts, or an expanded Tuareg rebellion in the north, "I think the Army should come back to reestablish democracy," he says.
Toure cites three conditions which must be met to avoid further Army intervention:
* National security for the whole country.
* A civilian administration which "correctly runs the country."
* "Respect for the Constitution."