Mali’s Prime Minister Resigns

Ban Ki-moon and Mali PM Cheick Modibo Diarra

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, meets with Mali PM Cheick Modibo Diarra at UN Headquarters, September 23, 2012.

Mali‘s interim Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra has resigned, just hours after he was arrested by soldiers as he prepared to leave the country.

Mr. Diarra made a statement on national television early Tuesday, announcing he was stepping down, along with his entire government.

A reporter in the region told VOA the prime minister was emotional as he apologized to Malians and said he had been trying to work for the country. In his brief statement, Mr. Diarra said there were some problems.

Officials say soldiers loyal to Captain Amadou Sanogo, who led Mali‘s coup earlier this year, arrested the prime minister at his home late Monday as he prepared to leave for France. The French News Agency says he was planning to travel to Paris for a medical check-up.

Tensions had been mounting in recent weeks in the unity government comprised of Mr. Diarra, Sanogo and interim President Diouncounda Traore. In August, the country formed the power-sharing government under the leadership of Mr. Diarra.

Islamist militants seized control of northern Mali in April, a few days after a coup toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure.

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council called for a “swift” response to the crisis in Mali, saying the situation there threatens regional peace and security.

The 15-nation Council said that a comprehensive and strategic approach is needed that includes restoring Mali’s territorial integrity and preventing further destabilization of other countries in Africa’s Sahel region.

The West African regional bloc ECOWAS was represented at Monday’s Security Council meeting by Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Charles Koffi Diby. He urged the Council to quickly authorize an African-led force of 3,300 troops to help restore stability to Mali.

In Brussels, EU foreign ministers approved a plan to deploy an EU military training mission in Mali to help the government regain control of the north. Under the plan, some 250 EU military personnel would be sent there to train Malian troops and help restructure the country’s weakened army.

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