BAMAKO, Mali (AP) -- Mali's interim prime minister who took office after soldiers behind a coup arrested his predecessor several days ago has chosen a new government, state television reported late Saturday, with key posts going to people linked to the coup leader.
The political upheaval has raised new concerns about the ability of the Malian military to take part in a regional operation to retake the northern part of the country which is now controlled by Islamist extremists who are carrying out public executions and amputations.
Interim Prime Minister Diango Cissoko's list was announced Saturday evening, days after he was chosen to replace Cheikh Modibo Diarra. The interim prime minister post was created as part of an attempt to return Mali to civilian rule following the coup.
However, critics say coup leader Capt. Amadou Sanogo has remained active in politics despite calls from the international community for him to remove himself from politics completely.
Among the appointees viewed as close to the coup leader are the new ministers of defense, interior security and justice.
Mali was thrown into political chaos when Sanogo and his soldiers overthrew the democratically elected president in March. While they later said they would hand over power to the interim civilian government, political appointments have continued to reflect their influence.
On Tuesday, soldiers arrested Diarra and forced the prime minister to resign before dawn. He appeared on state television at 4 a.m. to announce his resignation, hours after soldiers stormed his house.
The African Union has welcomed Cissoko's appointment despite the circumstances under which Diarra left office.
"As much as we strongly condemn the conditions under which the prime minister was compelled to resign, we also believe that we need to be forward looking and support the new prime minister and assist him and the authority of the interim president ... in precisely establishing and ensuring absolute civilian oversight over the military," El Ghassim Wane, a senior official of the AU peace and security council, told reporters at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
A plan to retake northern Mali with the help of forces from neighboring West African countries is still awaiting final approval at the United Nations. However, the recent political meddling by the military has raised concerns about the viability of working with the Malian military to carry out such a mission.
Radical Islamists were able to control of northern Mali during the power vacuum that followed the March coup. Over the past eight months, they have implemented their strict version of Islamic law known as Shariah. Many worry that, under the Islamists' rule, northern Mali will become a base for al-Qaida-linked militants to launch terror attacks on other countries, including into Europe.
Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report.
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