Mali’s interim president Diouncounda Traore has appointed Django Cissoko, a former Secretary General of the West African nation’s presidency, as prime minister, Mali state television said on Tuesday.
Cissoko will replace Cheick Modibo Diarra, who was forced to resign earlier in the day after he was arrested by soldiers who staged a coup in the Sahel nation in March.
The presidential decree read on state television said Django Sissoko, the republic’s ombudsman and a former administrator of the presidential palace, is the new premier.
Ex-Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra announced his resignation in a statement broadcast on national television at 4 am Tuesday.
The leader of Mali’s March 21 coup, Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, said he had no regrets about Diarra’s resignation. He denied, however, that the premier was forced to quit, saying soldiers simply “facilitated” his departure.
“When a prime minister has such excessive personal ambition, be it for elections or otherwise, when he is strangling the country, you have to act quickly,” Sanogo told reporters on Tuesday. “Mr Diarra is doing very well. He is not under any pressure, under any threat of violence. He is currently at home. But we are morally obliged to protect him and his family.”
The UN Security Council condemned the arrest of Diarra in what one analyst dubbed a “quasi-coup”. The council joined calls from France, the United States, the European Union and the regional bloc ECOWAS for the military to stop meddling in political affairs, and threatened targeted sanctions against those preventing the “restoration of constitutional order”.
Junta spokesman Bacary Mariko told FRANCE 24 earlier in the day that Diarra had failed to fulfil his “two main responsibilities” during the country’s territory crisis. “[Diarra’s first task] was to liberate northern Mali and the second was to organise free and transparent elections,” he said. “But everything he has done has been for the benefit of his own personal agenda.”
Mariko said he considered Diarra’s resignation a solution to Mali’s allegedly weak response to the Tuareg rebellion in the country’s north. “This will resolve the divisions that exist within the leadership. We have seen President Traoré visit Niger and give one statement while Diarra visits Chad and gives a completely different statement,” Mariko said. “The international community demands that Mali speak with a single voice … we think [his arrest] will help Mali have a government that speaks on its behalf and acts in its best interest.”