News Column

Mali's Premier Ousted Over Political Rift, Army Says

Dec. 11, 2012

Mali's interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra was forced to resign because he formed political ties that government and military officials disagreed with, the army said Tuesday.

Diarra began to show his "political intentions" by forging relationships with political groups that support him, army spokesman Modibo Nama Traore told dpa.

"He didn't consult either interim President Dioncounda Traore or the military," the spokesman said.

Diarra announced his and his government's resignation early Tuesday after he was arrested by the military. The army spokesman said the premier was freed after he signed his resignation.

An army official speaking to dpa denied that the action amounted to a coup.

"This is not a putsch. The former prime minister is in security. The new (premier) will be known at the end of the day," army colonel Diaran Kone told dpa.

Politicians close to President Dioncounda Traore have criticized the prime minister for reshuffling the government in August.

Sources speaking on condition of anonymity said when Diarra promoted some special advisers to the rank of minister, his relationship with the president soured.

The military denied initial reports that Diarra was forced to resign by the army - led by Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo - because it was against a planned African-led intervention in Mali's north, which has been occupied by various armed groups since early 2012.

"It's polical. Captain Sanogo is not directly involved in this. (Diarra) defied the authority of the state," spokesman Modibo Nama Traore said.

However, sources close to the president told dpa that Diarra was forced to resign over tension between him, President Dioncounda Traore and Captain Sanogo.

Sanogo in March led a group that overthrew the regime of former president Amadou Toumani Toure, prompting rebels to take advantage of the confusion and seize control of the north.

Sanogo handed power to the civilian government of transitional President Dioncounda Traore two weeks later, but observers said he remains influential in the capital.

Diarra, who had been acting prime minister since April, had called for international military intervention in the north of the country, which has been run by al-Qaeda-linked Islamists and Tuareg separatist rebels since June.

The resignation came a day after EU foreign ministers agreed to plan a military training mission for Mali aimed at helping Bamako regain control of the north of the country.

Those prepartions were still underway, the EU said Tuesday, despite the premier's resignation.

"Things continue, but of course we are watching the situation very carefully," said Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. "We hope that the military would stop interfering in political life and allow the transition process to a proper, credible democracy to go ahead."

Mali was supposed to start national consultations on Tuesday to plan a transitional roadmap but the talks have been postponed as the political actors and civil society failed to arrive at a consensus on the way forward.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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