Mali Prime Minister Diarra Resigns After Arrest by Army

Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra
Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra said, “I apologize to all the people of Mali who suffer from this crisis in various forms and at many levels.” Photographer: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra resigned and dissolved his government after he was arrested by the army in the West African nation.

Diarra announced his resignation in an address on ORTM, the state-owned broadcaster. Modibo Traore, military spokesman for public affairs, defense and security, said Diarre was arrested when he refused to resign before leaving the country for medical treatment, then attempted to go.

Mali Interim President Dioncounda Traore said on ORTM that a new prime minister will be announced tomorrow, and a new government appointed “in the week.”

“This was not a coup d’etat,” Bakary Mariko, a spokesman for the group of soldiers who overthrew President Amadou Toumani Toure in March, said by phone. “Given that he pursued his own personal political ambitions, the military has taken its responsibility and presented him with the facts.”

The U.S. denounced the military’s action. Diarra was “abducted by security forces loyal to the junta leader,” Captain Amadou Sanogo, and was “forced to resign and dissolve the cabinet,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington.

U.S. Criticism

“We condemn this act by the military junta and insist that it halt its continued interference in Malian political affairs and government,” Nuland said. “We view this event as a setback for Mali’s transition” and “its efforts to try to restore constitutional order and democratic government. The events of last night reinforce the need to get as quickly as possible to free and fair elections, ideally by April 23rd or as soon as it’s technically feasible.”

Diarra was released and is with his family, she said.

Sanogo said he “facilitated” the prime minister’s resignation, saying Diarra showed “excessive personal ambition.” Speaking on ORTM, Sanogo said “it was necessary to end that.”

“This development suggests that a solution to the political and military impasse in Mali is unlikely to materialize in the short term,” Samir Gadio, an emerging-markets strategist with Standard Bank Plc, said in an e-mailed note. “Diarra’s alleged personal ambitions may have frustrated some segments of the security forces and civilian elite.”

The removal of Toure in March left a power vacuum in Bamako, the capital, that allowed Touareg and Islamist rebels to take control of the north of the country, which vies with Tanzania as Africa’s third-biggest gold producer. The landlocked nation’s economy is forecast to contract 4.5 percent this year before growing 3 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund.

UN Plans

The United Nations Security Council is considering a plan already approved by African leaders for an intervention force of 3,000 troops who will train, equip and prepare Malian soldiers to fight for control of the north. Residents of Bamako protested on Dec. 8 to call for a quick decision on authorizing a military intervention in the north.

The council may decide on action in Mali within days, Nuland said.

Diarra, the former Africa chairman for Microsoft Corp. and U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration engineer, was named prime minister of the West African state in April, after the military junta handed back power to a civilian government.

Shares in companies that operate gold mines in Mali declined. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. dropped 1.6 percent to 263.60 rand by 4:44 p.m. in Johannesburg, while Randgold Resources Ltd. fell 0.2 percent to 6,370 pence in London.

“While the negative news flow may weigh on the stock price of mining companies operating in Mali such as Randgold, we do not expect the latest round of instability to intrinsically disrupt operations,” Gadio said.

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