New Turmoil In Mali As Prime Minister Is Arrested, Forced To Resign
REUTERS, BBC NEWS (UK), WALL STREET JOURNAL (USA)
BAMAKO - Mali"s Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra announced his resignation on Tuesday, hours after being arrested by soldiers while trying to leave for France, reports Reuters.
Diarra addressed the nation on national television saying: "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 went on to declare that he was "resigning along with my entire government on this day, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. I apologize before the entire population of Mali."
He was arrested in his house late Monday reportedly on the orders of Captain Amadou Sanogo, who had led a military coup earlier this year, reports BBC News. A military spokesman said the arrest Tuesday was not a coup, and a new prime minister would be named shortly.
Mali's prime minister was getting ready to leave the country for France, reports the Wall Street Journal. It's unclear if the trip was planned, or if Diarra had gotten wind of the pending arrest and was trying to flee.
Diarra had been appointed prime minister of an interim government in April after the military officially handed power back to civilians following the coup that shook the country a month earlier.
Over the last few weeks, tensions between the leader and the army has risen in Mali.
The 60-year-old astrophysicist has backed plans to send a West African intervention force into the northern half of Mali which was seized after the coup.
West African leaders have agreed to dispatch more than 3000 soldiers to Mali to revamp the army and then support operations to retake the north from the Islamist rebels.
France has led a push for an international military operation to tackle the Islamist groups, including al Qaeda's North African wing, AQIM.
Many within Mali's military are opposed to a foreign intervention, saying they need only financial and logistical support.
Earlier this week, the country was described as "one of the potentially most explosive corners of the world" by the United States.