Alpha Oumar Konaré, born on 2 February 1946 in Kayes, Mali, is a prominent Malian politician and scholar. He served as the President of Mali for two consecutive five-year terms from 1992 to 2002 and later assumed the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission from 2003 to 2008. Konaré is widely recognized for his contributions to the restoration of democracy in Mali, his efforts towards regional integration in West Africa, and his dedication to promoting peace on the international stage.
Konaré's academic journey began in his hometown of Kayes, where he attended primary school. He pursued his secondary education at the Lycée Terrasson des Fougères in Bamako and the Collège de Maristes in Dakar, Senegal. He furthered his studies at the Collège Moderne in Kayes and then attended the École Normale Secondaire in Katibougou from 1962 to 1964. Konaré completed his advanced studies in history at the École Normale Supérieure in Bamako from 1965 to 1969. He continued his education at the University of Warsaw from 1971 to 1975 and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.
Initially, Konaré embarked on a career in education, working as a tutor in Kayes and later as a lycée teacher in Markala and Bamako. In 1974, he conducted research at the Institut des Sciences Humaines du Mali, and from 1975 to 1978, he served as the head of historic patrimony and ethnography at the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts, and Culture. In 1980, Konaré became a researcher at the Institut Supérieur de Formation en Recherche Appliquée (I.S.F.R.A) and a professor at the History/Geography department at the École Normale Supérieure of Bamako. Throughout his career, he held leadership positions in various professional organizations, including the Association of Historians and Geographers of Mali, the West African Association of Archaeologists, and the Union of West African Researchers. Additionally, Konaré worked as a consultant for UNESCO and UNDP from 1981 to 1992.
Konaré's involvement in politics began at an early age when he was elected as the Secretary General of the Sudanese Union/African Democratic Rally (US-RDA), the party of President Modibo Keïta, at the École Normale Supérieure of Bamako in 1967. Following the coup d'état by General Moussa Traoré, he became an activist for the clandestine Malian Party for Work (Parti malien du travail or PMT), which embraced Marxist-Leninist ideology. In 1978, Konaré accepted a ministerial post in Moussa Traoré's government as Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts, and Culture. Although he resigned in 1980, his tenure witnessed the establishment of numerous sports organizations in Mali. Konaré went on to found and direct the cultural review "Jamana" in 1983 and the cultural cooperative of the same name. In 1989, he established the daily newspaper Les échos, and in 1991, he launched "Radio Bamakan," Mali's first free radio station.
In 1990, Konaré played a significant role in the formation of the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (Alliance pour la démocratie au Mali or ADEMA), a movement that brought together various anti-Traoré groups. He helped transform ADEMA into ADEMA/PASJ, an official political party, and served as its delegate to the 1991 National Conference of Mali. Following the democratic transition led by Amadou Toumani Touré, Konaré won the presidential election in 1992, becoming Mali's first elected president. He was re-elected for a second term in the 1997 presidential election, despite a boycott by some opposition groups. During his presidency, Konaré focused on restoring democracy, managing the Tuareg Rebellion in the north, and decentralizing the government. However, corruption remained a persistent challenge during his administration.
Konaré paid tribute to Modibo Keïta, Mali's first president, by creating a memorial in his honor in Bamako. Known for his opposition to the death penalty, he commuted the sentences of Moussa Traoré, the former president, and his wife to life imprisonment in 2002. Konaré's tenure also saw Mali hosting the African Cup of Nations, the continent's most prestigious football tournament, in 2002.
On the international stage, Konaré actively worked towards peace and regional integration in West Africa. He served as the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1999 and the West African Monetary Union (UEMOA) in 2000.
Following his two-term limit as president, Konaré stepped down in 2002 and was succeeded by Amadou Toumani Touré. Subsequently, on 10 July 2003, he was elected as the Chairman of the Commission of the African Union (AU) during a summit in Maputo. Konaré's tenure as Chairperson focused on promoting African unity and development. In 2008, Jean Ping of Gabon succeeded him in the role.
After leaving office, Konaré continued to contribute to academic and political spheres. In September 2021, he was urgently hospitalized in Morocco at Cheikh Zaid Hospital in Rabat.
Alpha Oumar Konaré's legacy in Mali and Africa is marked by his commitment to democracy, regional integration, cultural preservation, and peace-building. His contributions as both a scholar and a politician have left a lasting impact on the development and progress of his country and the African continent as a whole.
Date of Birth: 2nd February, 1946
Time of Birth:
Place of Birth: Kayes