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Setback In Mali

Mali's new Prime Minister Diango Cissoko (L) and Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore sit in the Presidential residence in Bamako on December 12, 2012.

Interim government of Mali has new prime minister after security forces loyal to junta forced the previous PM to resign.

The interim government of Mali has a new prime minister after security forces loyal to junta leader Captain Amadou Sanogo forced the previous PM to resign, further roiling the political situation in a country facing a humanitarian crisis and fighting an insurrection and terrorist threat.

Setback In Mali
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Interim President Dioncounda Traore appeared on state television December 11 to announce the resignation of Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra. Later, state television announced the appointment of National Ombudsman Django Cissoko to the post. The night before, soldiers had arrested Mr. Diarra as he was preparing to leave for medical treatment in France, and forced him to step down. He was later released.

Mr. Diarra was made prime minister in April after the military officers who seized power in a coup in March handed control back to civilians. Tensions between coup leaders, the interim president and the prime minister have been building over political power-sharing in the capital, how to proceed with negotiations, and the need for foreign intervention to deal with the terrorists and extremists who control much of the country’s north.

The United States strongly condemns the military junta’s actions, and insists that it halt its continued interference in Mali’s government and political affairs. Mr. Diarra’s ouster greatly complicates Mali’s transition and the discussions surrounding an international intervention force. It also is a setback for efforts to restore democratic government and constitutional order.

That said, Mr. Cissoko is someone the U.S. knows and respects. It is hoped that he can form a government that can provide the needed political leadership to hold free, fair and transparent elections by April 2013, as agreed to in the April 2012 framework agreement between the Economic Community of West African States and the transitional Malian government, or as soon as technically feasible.

A popularly elected government is critical to restoring Mali’s ability to control and defend its territory, and address the many challenges it faces.