The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday condemned the arrest of Mali’s Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra by the armed forces and renewed a threat to impose sanctions on those who threaten the country’s “constitutional order.”
U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon is also “troubled” by the new turmoil in the African nation, where Islamist militants and rebels have taken over half the country, his spokesman said.
The United States Tuesday also condemned the forced resignation of Diarra, saying it was "a setback" in the west African nation’s efforts to restore democracy.
“We condemn this act by the military junta and insist that it halt its continued interference in Malian political affairs and government,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Meanwhile, Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, on Tuesday named Django Sissoko as prime minister to replace Diarra.
Sissoko, until then the troubled west African nation’s ombudsman, will be tasked with forming a new government, according to a presidential decree read on public television.
Diarra forced to resign
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 given at the premises of, and aired by, ORTM.
He gave no reason for his decision.
Earlier, a source in his entourage told AFP 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, 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.”
But the country's ex-junta spokesman said Tuesday that Diarra's resignation after his arrest by soldiers was not a coup and a new premier will be named soon.
"This is not a new coup d'etat," Bakary Mariko told France 24 television, after Diarra's arrest on the orders of Mariko's boss, former coup leader Amadou Sanogo.
Mariko said Diarra was "not a man of duty" and added that a successor will "be named in the coming hours by the president."
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 hardline Islamists.
The 60-year-old is a staunch advocate of plans to send a west African intervention force into the occupied territory to drive out the extremists who are running the zone according to their brutal interpretation of sharia, or Islamic, law.
Looking drawn and speaking in solemn tones, Diarra thanked his supporters and expressed the hope that “the new team” would succeed in their task in a country where the north is controlled by armed Islamists linked to al-Qaeda.
Diarra, a noted astrophysicist who has worked on several NASA space programs and served as Microsoft chairman for Africa, was due to leave for Paris 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.