Every five years since then Mali has held elections which have been considered generally free and fair by observers. Alpha Oumar Konaré, who won the presidential election in 1992, reformed state institutions and negotiated an end to a long-simmering rebellion by Tuareg nomads in the northern deserts, where central government had never had much control. Konaré stepped down in 2002, respecting a constitutional two-term limit, and was succeeded by Touré. Privately owned newspapers and radio stations, once a state monopoly, flourished, and the country became popular with aid donors, a destination for tourists and a regular venue for music festivals. It was a tranquil place that never made the news.
It lost that distinction on the afternoon of 21 March, when troops in Kati, just outside the capital city of Bamako, launched a mutiny.