Mali held a state funeral on Tuesday for former president Amadou Toumani Toure, an emblematic figure who steered the troubled nation to free elections and led it for a decade before being ousted in a coup.

Toure, sometimes called Mali’s soldier of democracy, died on November 10 at the age of 72 after he had been transferred to Turkey for medical care following heart surgery.

A coffin draped in the national flag and borne by six soldiers was slowly carried into the centre of a square in the capital Mali for ceremonies attended by the leaders of the country’s latest putsch and by foreign dignitaries.

Those in the VIP stand included Bah Ndaw, a former military officer who is currently president of Mali’s transitional government, and the vice president, Assimi Goita, who led the August 18 coup.

Toure, a former soldier, first took charge of the country for a year in 1991.

He helped overthrow the iron-fisted regime of Moussa Traore, who had been in power since 1968.