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Mali's PM Diarra resigns after arrest by military

© Photo: AFP

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-12-11

Mali’s Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra announced his resignation and that of his government on national television early on Tuesday, just hours after he was arrested by the rebel soldiers behind a March coup.

Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra resigned on state television on Tuesday, just hours after he was detained by soldiers who led a coup in the West African nation in March. The incident was a further political setback in a country where Islamic militants have seized control of most of the north.

FRANCE WEIGHS IN ON MALI CRISIS

Paris deplored Malian PM Diarra's "forced resignation" on Tuesday, calling on the junta to stop meddling in the country's politics and for the quick appointment of a "new representative government."

France's foreign ministry also urged rapid deployment of an African stabilisation force to reclaim northern Mali from al Qaeda-linked fighters.

“Our country is living through the most difficult period of its history. Men and women who are worried about the future of our nation are hoping for peace,” Diarra said, in what appeared to be a hastily organised address. “It is for this reason that I, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, am resigning along with my entire government on this day.”

Diarra, 60, who was appointed to the country’s top post in April after international pressure was put on coup leaders to hand back power to civilians, was reportedly getting ready to leave the country.

“Things happened very quickly, Diarra was preparing to fly to Paris when he realised that his luggage had been unloaded from the plane,” said Serge Daniel, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Mali.

‘He has failed’

Dressed in a dark suit and sitting in front of an ordinary white wall, Diarra appeared nervous while he read off the statement announcing his resignation. Several times he looked off camera as if seeking approval from those recording his address.

The mutinous soldiers who led the March coup, who mostly came from the army's lower ranks, had been frustrated by the previous government's failure to confront a Tuareg rebellion in the country's north. But once they quelled the revolt with the help of Islamist fighters, the Islamists took control of the region.

A spokesman for the military junta, Bacary Mariko, told FRANCE 24 on Tuesday that Diarra’s arrest was not a new coup but that he had also failed to restore stability in the north.

“The prime minister was not a democratically elected official and we must all recognise that he has failed in his mandated mission to liberate northern Mali,” Mariko said by phone from Bamako.

MALI

Their leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, remains a powerful figure within the country despite officially conceding power to politicians. Sanogo has been repeatedly accused of meddling in politics since he stepped down and was officially tasked with overseeing the reform of Mali's army.

Calm in the streets of Bamako

Hamadoun Touré, a close adviser to Diarra, told FRANCE 24 from Bamako that he could not yet comment on the situation as he "no longer understood" the political situation in his home country.

Antoine Glasser, a French specialist on Mali, said the new power grab was likely the result of differences over a future military offensive to take back the northern regions currently controlled by al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters.

“The prime minister has defended a speedy mobilisation that would include foreign military intervention and aid,” Glasser said. “But for Sanogo, such an arrangement puts in question Mali’s sovereignty.”

Glasser said a condemnation of Diarra’s arrest from Washington will likely be swift, as his ouster will further hinder international efforts to check the Islamist groups who now have free rein in the country’s north.

Banks and local shops opened on Tuesday as usual in Bamako with no signs of soldiers on the streets. Several official buildings were, however, being guarded by paramilitary police.

“Best thing about recent coups d'état in Mali is that from the street you would never know one was happening. Everyone going about [their] business,” wrote Hannah Armstrong, a fellow with the Washington-based Institute of Current World Affairs, on Twitter.

(FRANCE24 with wires)

Date created : 2012-12-11

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