Bamako: Hundreds of supporters of exiled former Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown in a military coup in 2012, called for his return on Thursday in rallies held in several cities.
The gathering in the capital Bamako drew more than a thousand people, according to an AFP reporter at the scene, many of them wearing t-shirts emblazoned with a picture of Toure, who is known by his initials ATT.
Smaller crowds also gathered in the central city of Mopti and the northern city of Gao, witnesses said.
"ATT must be allowed to come back without any trouble... for the sake of peace and national reconciliation," said one of the organisers, Oumar Toure.
Ex-president Toure, who came to power in 2002, fled to Senegal after being overthrown by a military junta in 2012 just as he was preparing to end his final term in office.
He was accused by the soldiers of failing to tackle an Islamist insurgency in the north of Mali.
The coup led by Amadou Sanogo toppled what had been heralded as one of the region`s most stable democracies and precipitated the fall of northern Mali to Al-Qaeda-linked groups until a French-led military operation in 2013 forced them out of the towns.
The government of current President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has sought to prosecute Toure for "high treason".