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Conflict

Mali's prime minister resigns after arrest by junta

Mali's prime minister has resigned after his arrest by a junta. Soldiers who had taken part in Mali's March coup arrested Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra Tuesday night, accusing him of trying to flee the country.

At 4 a.m. local time, Diarra went on television (pictured above) to state that he could no longer continue in his role after the arrest.

"Men and women who are worried about the future of our nation, you are hoping for peace," the prime minister said. "It's for this reason that I, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, am resigning along with my entire government."

Soldiers detained Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra overnight at the Kati military camp on the outskirts of the capital, Bamako, members of his entourage told Radio France Inter. The soldiers who arrested him alleged that Diarra had tried to leave the country.

"He wanted to leave the country, having incited trouble," a spokesman said.

Months of instability

Diarra, the acting prime minister since April, has called for international military intervention in the north of the country, which has been run by al Qaeda-linked Islamist separatists since June. Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, who ordered the arrest, has spoken out against such an intervention.

He led a military coup that overthrew the regime of President Amadou Toumani Toure in March, prompting armed rebels to take advantage of the confusion and seize control of Mali's north. Sanogo handed power to the transitional civilian government two weeks later, but observers say he remains influential in the capital.

Fears have risen that Mali's north could become a terrorist base. EU foreign ministers approved plans to send a 250-strong military training commission to Mali with a view to helping defeat Islamists who have seized control over the country's north.

The EU force, which would not fight alongside Malian soldiers, is one dimension of a broader international effort to restore order and unity.

mkg/ccp (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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