Mali PM Diarra quits after arrest

Mali’s prime minister announced his resignation on Tuesday, hours after being arrested by soldiers while trying to leave the divided and unstable West African nation for France.

The development in the Sahel state, whose desert north was occupied by al Qaeda-linked Islamists following a March coup, seemed likely to complicate African and international efforts to organise a military intervention to reunite the country.

“I, Cheick Modibo Diarra, hereby resign with my entire government on Tuesday, December 11, 2012,” a nervous-looking Diarra said in a statement broadcast on state television early on Tuesday morning. News of Diarra’s resignation came hours after he was arrested late on Monday as he tried to leave the country for France. It was not immediately clear whether he made the statement of his own volition or was forced to do so.

Bakary Mariko, a spokesman for the group of soldiers that seized power in the March coup, and which remains powerful despite officially handing power back to civilians in April, said Diarra had been arrested for not working fully to address the nation’s problems.
“The country is in crisis but he was blocking the institutions,” Mariko said.

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