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Mali's new PM forms government

Sunday December 16 2012

PHOTO | HABIB KOUYATE Mali's former premier Cheick Modibo Diarra (L) sits alongside his successor and replacement Prime Minister Diango Cissoko during a press conference dedicated to the official handover of power between the two, in Bamako, on December 13, 2012.

PHOTO | HABIB KOUYATE Mali's former premier Cheick Modibo Diarra (L) sits alongside his successor and replacement Prime Minister Diango Cissoko during a press conference dedicated to the official handover of power between the two, in Bamako, on December 13, 2012. AFP

By AFP

BAMAKO

Mali's new Prime Minister Diango Cissoko has formed his government, according to a decree read on state television Saturday, four days after he was named to the post when his predecessor Cheikh Modibo Diarra resigned under pressure from the country's ex-junta.

Cissoko told AFP on Friday he was working on the formation of a unity government representative of all parts of the troubled nation's society.

Defence Minister Colonel Yamoussa Camara, Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly and Economy Minister Tienan Coulibaly, who held posts in the previous administration, also joined the ranks of the new government, interim President Dioncounda Traore said in his decree.

Mali, once one of the region's most stable democracies, imploded as a Tuareg rebellion in its desert north prompted angry soldiers in March to overthrow the government.

As political paralysis took hold in Bamako, despite the setting up of an interim government earlier this year, the Tuareg and their Islamist allies continued a juggernaut which saw them seize all key northern towns and more than half the Malian territory.

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The Islamists, tied to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, quickly sidelined their erstwhile Tuareg allies and took firm control in the region, where they have imposed brutal sharia law on residents.

The west African regional bloc ECOWAS is pushing for the deployment of a 3,300-strong intervention force to drive out the Islamists. It is backed by Western powers who fear the zone could become a haven for terrorists.