Mali PM chosen; 2 politicians arrested

2012-04-17 22:25

Bamako -  Soldiers arrested the head of one of Mali's biggest political parties on Tuesday, hours after a former prime minister also was detained, deepening questions about whether the military is in control of the nation despite a handover of power to a civilian leader.

State television announced that a new prime minister had been appointed into the government, though the extent of its control over the country remains unclear. Cheick Modibo Diarra, who has served as Microsoft's chair for Africa, now will join the interim government.

Mutinous soldiers overthrew the democratically elected president of Mali in late March, but later agreed to allow the leader of the national assembly to take over for an interim period of 40 days.

Concerns remain, though, about whether the junta is actually stepping aside now that Dioncounda Traore has become interim president. The West African regional bloc Ecowas, the EU and the United States all want to see the junta back in their barracks and out of politics as soon as possible.

Soumaila Cisse, one the front-runners for the presidential election that was derailed by the coup, was arrested on Tuesday in front of his home in Bamako, according to Abdoul Malick Diallo, a member of parliament from Cisse's party.

Diallo said that Cisse was hurt during the arrest but that he couldn't say how serious the injury was.

Late Monday, a former Malian prime minister was re-arrested by military personnel just days after he had been released from custody.

Modibo Sidibe was arrested at home on Monday night by men who arrived in vehicles marked "military police," according to Cheickna Diarra, who said he did not know why Sidibe was arrested or where he was being held.

Sidibe was among around a dozen politicians who were arrested immediately after the military coup and who were released following last week's handover to the civilian interim leader.

Amid the post-coup political upheaval, separatist rebels in northern Mali declared an independent state that is larger than France. The power vacuum also has allowed an Islamic faction that wants to impose Shari'ah law in the area to flourish.

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