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Mali to transfer power to new PM

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iol pic afr mali - Cheick Modibo Diarra

REUTERS

File photo: Mali's former Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra.

Bamako -

Mali's former premier, who was strongarmed into resigning by an ex-junta, met his replacement Prime Minister Diango Cissoko on Thursday for an official handover of power in Bamako.

The astrophysicist turned politician Cheick Modibo Diarra had not appeared in public since announcing his resignation on Tuesday after being seized by soldiers and later placed under house arrest.

He arrived at the premier's headquarters on Thursday without military protection.

Former state ombudsman Cissoko was appointed on Tuesday. While the international community has denounced the manner in which Diarra resigned, many are hopeful a new government will give a renewed momentum to the country's transition.

Diarra has said his main priorities are organising elections and wresting back control of northern Mali from Islamic hardliners who have occupied it for eight months and imposed brutal sharia law on the population.

The international community is also hoping stability in Bamako will ease the deployment of a foreign intervention force in the north, which has been approved in principle by the United Nations, but is still mired in uncertainty and divisions.

Pierre Buyoya, the African Union's representative for Mali and the Sahel, on Thursday called for a “real” unity government to be put in place in Bamako. - Sapa-AFP


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