Mali profileInterim president: Dioncounda Traore
Dioncounda Traore was inaugurated in April 2012, marking a tentative return to civilian rule after the military coup in March that toppled his predecessor, Amadou Toumani Toure.
Army officers, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, said they were taking over because of Mr Toure's mishandling of a Tuareg-led insurrection in the north.
Under a deal with the military brokered by regional powers, Mr Traore named a prime minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra to head a "unity administration" including the military until new elections can be held.
Captain Sanogo agreed in May 2012 to let President Traore remain in office for a year to oversee the full transition to civilian rule.
Mr Traore, a former speaker of parliament, vowed to respect the constitution and preserve democracy. He also won UN Security Council backing for an expeditionary force by the West African Ecowas grouping to oust Tuareg Islamist separatists in the north, which is expected to be launched in early 2013.
Discontent among military leaders about the Ecowas intervention plan boiled over in December, however, and led to the resignation of Prime Minister Diarra - a strong proponent of the expeditionary force. President Traore quickly appointed an aide, Django Sissoko, to the post, but faces possible US and UN sanctions over the alleged army intervention.
As the Islamist rebels threatened to take advantage of the impasse and advance south, France agreed to an urgent request by Mr Traore for military intervention and rapidly recaptured Gao and Timbutku in the north.
Dubbed the "soldier of democracy", ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure was an army general who was credited with rescuing Mali from military dictatorship and establishing democracy.
He came to power in 1991 after overthrowing military ruler Moussa Traore, and won presidential polls in 2002 and 2007.
He had been due to step aside at the end of his current term. Presidential elections were to have been held in April 2012.
Mr Toure formally resigned after the coup and left Mali for Senegal, although his supporters continued attacks on the new authorities in the capital, Bamako, into May.