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Mali PM arrested by soldiers
Published on:Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 00:17
Malian soldiers arrested Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra at his home late Monday, a member of his entourage told AFP, adding that the action had been ordered by ex-coup leader Amadou Sanogo.
"The prime minister was arrested by about 20 soldiers who came from Kati" a military barracks outside Bamako and headquarters of the former putschists, the source said.
"They said Captain Sanogo sent them to arrest him," he added. A security source confirmed the information.
The member of Diarra's entourage who witnessed the arrest, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the soldiers had "smashed in the door of the prime minister's residence and took him away a bit violently."
Diarra, a noted astrophysicist who has worked on several NASA space programs and served as Microsoft’s chairperson for Africa, was earlier 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.
The source said Diarra had recorded a short message which was to be broadcast on state television, but soldiers went to the broadcaster's headquarters to confiscate the tape.
Diarra has repeatedly declared himself in favour of a rapid military intervention to drive hardline Islamists from northern Mali, which was occupied in the wake of a disastrous coup by Sanogo on March 22.
Sanogo, previously unknown, ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure's government as a rebellion by Tuareg separatists was underway in the north. The coup only made it easier for the rebels and their Islamist allies to seize control of an area larger than France.
While Sanogo handed power to a civilian government shortly thereafter, his men have remained influential in Bamako.