Soldiers arrested Mali’s Prime Minister and ordered him to resign, showing that the military is still the real power in the capital of this large West Africa country even though soldiers made a show of returning control back to civilian leaders several months after launching a coup in March.
Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra, dressed in a dark suit and his forehead glistening with sweat, went on TV at 4 a.m. to announce his resignation. He was reportedly back in his house on Tuesday afternoon under military guard, brought there from a military base.
“Our country is living through a period of crisis. Men and women who are worried about the future of our nation are hoping for peace,” he said on TV. “It’s for this reason that I, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, am resigning along with my entire government on this day, Tuesday, December 11, 2012. I apologise before the entire population of Mali.”
Despite the events, planning for a European Union training mission to help the Malian army oust Islamist insurgents who have seized northern Mali and instituted strict Sharia law would proceed, said a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
A spokesman for the military junta acknowledged that soldiers arrested Mr. Diarra. He claimed Mr. Diarra was “not getting along” with the President or coup leader Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo.
For several weeks, tension has been mounting between the officers who led the coup and Mr. Diarra, the civilian Prime Minister whom they were forced to appoint when they handed back power to a transitional government.
Mr. Diarra, an astrophysicist who previously led one of NASA’s Mars exploration programmes, was initially seen as in step with Captain Sanogo.