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December 12, 2012

International Powers React to Mali PM's Resignation

by VOA News

There is growing international criticism of the abrupt resignation of Malian Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra

He stepped down on Tuesday shortly after he was arrested by soldiers who backed the March military coup.

The African Union, on Wednesday, condemned the circumstances that led to Diarra's resignation. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the commission chief of the pan-African bloc, demanded the military "subordinate" to civilian authorities.

The ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) regional bloc also spoke out against the military's role in Diarra's resignation.

ECOWAS spokesman Sonny Ugoh says the group is also seeking support from the international community.

"The international community should also join us in condemning this and working together [with us] to make sure that the military stays within the confines of their mandate," he said.

In a brief televised statement, Diarra gave no specific reason for his resignation but said he was quitting in the interest of peace.

Military spokesman Bakary Mariko says that Diarra had to go because he was "blocking institutions."  He also said Diarra and interim President Diouncounda Traore did not agree on anything.

The president then named longtime government official Django Sissoko as the new prime minister.

A U.N. spokesman said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "troubled" by the developments in Mali.

The United States condemned the actions of the military junta. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was urging Mali's military to stop interfering in political affairs.  

Nuland also said that because of the events in Mali, she expected the U.N. Security Council to take action on possible military intervention this week.

Mali has been in turmoil since March when a military coup overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure.

The power vacuum allowed Islamic extremists and rebels to seize control of northern Mali and the historic city of Timbuktu.

West African leaders have urged the Security Council to authorize an African-led force of 3,300 troops to help restore stability to Mali.