The prime minister of Mali [JURIST news archive], Cheick Modibo Diarra, was forced to resign on state television Tuesday after junta soldiers arrested him for attempting to leave the country in light of the ongoing humanitarian crisis threatening the nation. Diarra's ouster has been seen as a show of force by a military that staged a coup in March and continues to exert its influence and power [Reuters report] throughout Mali. Following his arrest, the now ex-prime minister was taken to a meeting with former coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo, where he was accused of urging citizens to disrupt talks on the current political crisis and failing to liberate the nation's north, much of which has been seized by ethnic Tuareg rebels and al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters. Both groups have been the subject of international attention, particularly for exacerbating the humanitarian crisis [Reuters report] by targeting civilians and abusing human rights [JURIST report].
The crisis in Mali has drawn a great deal of international scorn and scrutiny. In September Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that three armed Islamist groups in northern Mali are abusing the local population and recruiting child soldiers. Earlier that month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] condemned [JURIST report] human rights violations in Mali and called for international action to address the problems. Pillay noted that two militant Islamic groups are recruiting child soldiers, committing cruel punishments, violating basic human rights, committing sexual violence against women, and executing individuals. In August, officials from the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] were in Mali investigating [JURIST report] whether the same two Islamic groups had committed war crimes in Mali.