, BAMAKO, Dec 11 – Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra resigned on Tuesday, hours after he was arrested at home by soldiers acting on the orders of ex-coup leader Amadou Sanogo.
“I, Cheick Modibo Diarra, resign with my government,” Diarra said in a brief speech given at the premises of, and aired by, national broadcaster ORTM.
He gave no reason for his decision.
Looking drawn and speaking in solemn tones, Diarra thanked his supporters and expressed the hope that “the new team” would succeed in their task in a country where the north is controlled by armed Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda.
His message was delivered hours after a source in his entourage said the prime minister had been arrested by about “20 soldiers who came from Kati”, a military barracks outside Bamako and headquarters of the former putschists.
“They said Captain Sanogo sent them to arrest him,” he added. A security source confirmed the information.
Diarra, a noted astrophysicist who has worked on several NASA space programmes and served as Microsoft chairman for Africa, was due to leave for Paris for a medical check-up.
He cancelled plans to head to the airport when he learned his baggage had been taken off the plane meant to take him to France.
Diarra was named as prime minister in an interim government just weeks after a disastrous March coup that plunged the once stable democracy into a crisis which has seen over half its territory seized by hardline Islamists.
The 60-year-old is a staunch advocate of plans to send a west African intervention force into the occupied territory to drive out the extremists who are running the zone according to their brutal interpretation of sharia, or Islamic, law.