BAMAKO: Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra resigned on Tuesday, hours after he was arrested at home by soldiers acting on the orders of former coup leader Amadou Sanogo.
“I, Cheick Modibo Diarra, resign with my government,” Diarra said in a brief speech given at the premises of national broadcaster ORTM which aired it. He gave no reason for his decision.
The resignation plunges further into chaos a country already effectively split in two after armed Islamists linked to al-Qaeda took over the north.
Looking drawn and speaking in solemn tones, Diarra thanked his supporters and expressed the hope that “the new team” would succeed in their task.
His message was delivered hours after a source in his entourage said the prime minister had been arrested by about “20 soldiers who came from Kati”, a military barracks outside Bamako and headquarters of the former putschists. “They said Captain Sanogo sent them to arrest him,” he added. A security source confirmed the information. Diarra, an astrophysicist who has worked on several Nasa space programmes and served as Microsoft chairman for Africa, was due to leave for Paris on Monday for a medical check-up.
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 entourage 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.
Diarra was named as prime minister in an interim government just weeks after a disastrous March coup that plunged the once stable democracy into a crisis which has seen over half its territory seized by the hardline Islamists.