Military forces Mali leader to resign

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BAMAKO, Mali -- Soldiers arrested the prime minister and forced him to resign before dawn yesterday, showing that the military remains the real power despite handing back authority to civilians after a coup in March.

The ouster of Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra comes as the UN considers backing a military intervention in Mali, now in constant turmoil. Late in the day, a new prime minister had been named, but the developments drew international rebuke and raised questions about the viability of the military operation, which would use the military to try to take back Mali's north from Islamic extremists.

Diarra appeared on state television at 4 a.m. to announce his resignation, hours after soldiers stormed his house.

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Diarra, 60, a NASA astrophysicist, has contributed to numerous space exploration missions including the Magellan probe to Venus and the Galileo spacecraft to Jupiter. He is under house arrest, said junta spokesman Bakary Mariko.

The government was technically under the control of e interim president Dioncounda Traore. -- AP

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