Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra has resigned hours after he was arrested as he tried to leave the country, the AFP news agency reported, citing national broadcaster ORTM.
“I, Cheik Modibo Diarra, I resign with my government,” Diarra declared in a brief speech aired by ORTM.
He gave no reason for his decision.
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Bakary Mariko, a spokesperson for the group of soldiers who seized power in a March 21 coup, said Diarra’s resignation after his arrest was not a coup, adding that a new prime minister would be named soon.
“This is not a new coup d’etat,” Mariko told France 24 television.
Mariko said Diarra was arrested as he tried to leave the country after “inciting trouble”. Diarra had been the interim prime minister since April when the army handed power back to civilians.
A member of Diarra’s entourage told the AFP that he “was arrested by about 20 soldiers late on Monday.
“They said Captain Sanogo sent them to arrest him,” he added, referring to the leader of the March coup.
The source, who witnessed the arrest, said the soldiers had “smashed in the door of the prime minister’s residence and took him away a bit violently”.
‘Still in control’
Jim Terrie, a former senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, a think-tank, told Al Jazeera that the prime minister had quit due to pressure from those behind the coup.
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“I think it’s a way of saying to the prime minister and the interim president – those civilian aspects of the current government – that ‘we’re still in control,'” Terrie said from Sydney, Australia.
For several weeks, tension has been mounting between the soldiers who led Mali’s coup and Diarra.
Last weekend, Diarra organised a demonstration calling for a UN resolution to back a planned military intervention to retake Mali’s north from armed groups.
Diarra, a noted astrophysicist who has worked on several NASA space programmes and served as Microsoft’s chairperson for Africa, had been due to leave for Paris for a medical check-up, AFP reported.
He cancelled plans to head to the airport when he learned his baggage had been taken off the plane meant to take him to France.
The source said Diarra had recorded a short message which was to be broadcast on state television, but soldiers went to the broadcaster’s headquarters to confiscate the tape.
Sanogo, previously unknown, ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure’s government as a rebellion by Tuareg separatists was under way in the north.
The coup only made it easier for the rebels and their allies to seize control of an area larger than France.
While Sanogo handed power to a civilian government shortly thereafter, his men have remained influential in Bamako