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December 11, 2012

Mali's President Appoints New Prime Minister

by Anne Look

Mali's interim president has appointed a new prime minister.  The move comes less than 24 hours after the former interim prime minister resigned following his arrest by soldiers loyal to the military junta that overthrew the elected government in March.  
 
Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, said Tuesday night on state television that he had accepted the resignation of now former prime minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra, but made no direct mention of his arrest. 
 
Traore said he had received the formal resignation in writing and accepted it.  He thanked Diarra for his service and said Mali would know its new prime minister within 24 hours and have a new government by the end of the week. 

​​Just minutes later, Diango Cissoko, a veteran public servant who has held posts in previous administrations, was named new interim prime minister by a decree read during the same news broadcast. 
 
Late Monday, soldiers arrested Diarra at his home as he prepared to leave for France.
 
Hours after his arrest, Diarra resigned his post on state television. 
 
Diarra said he and his government were stepping down in the interest of peace.  He asked forgiveness from all Malians suffering from this crisis.  He thanked his collaborators and wished success to the "new team" that would succeed him. 
 
Diarra gave no specific reason for his resignation and appeared to be reading from a prepared statement.  
 
Mali is still reeling from a March 22 military coup.  Al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants have seized the northern half of the country, while the south remains mired in a power struggle between civilian and military leaders.
 
The military junta said Diarra had to go because he had let his own personal political agenda get in the way of his duties to the nation. 
 
Junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo said on state television Tuesday night that the junta did not force Diarra to resign but merely "facilitated it." 
 
Sanogo said Diarra did not resign under any pressure or violence.  Sanogo said the country will continue to move forward under a new prime minister.  But he says if anyone else tries to act out of excessive personal ambition or weigh down the system, he will not hesitate for one second to step in and help the president keep this person from working against Mali. 
 
Sanogo said Diarra refused to recognize the president's authority and had become a "danger for Mali."  He also blamed the former prime minister for blocking efforts to re-equip the army.
 
Sanogo denied that Diarra was under house arrest Tuesday and said instead that soldiers are guarding him for his safety.
 
The international community condemned Diarra's arrest and subsequent resignation.  
 
The United Nations Security Council said in a statement that the Malian army must stop interfering in the work of the transitional government and threatened measures, including targeted sanctions, against those working to undermine constitutional order and stability in Mali.

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