Mali PM Cheick Modibo Diarra arrested at home by soldiers

Mali

Malian soldiers have arrested Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra at his home, acting on the orders of ex-coup leader Amadou Sanogo, a member of the premier's entourage has said.

"The prime minister was arrested by about 20 soldiers who came from Kati" a military barracks outside Bamako and headquarters of the former putschists, said the source, who witnessed the yesterday's arrest.

"They said Captain Sanogo sent them to arrest him," he added. A security source confirmed the information.

The member of Diarra's entourage, 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 was named as prime minister in an interim government just weeks after a disastrous March coup which plunged the once stable democracy into a crisis which has seen over half its territory seized by hardline Islamists.

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