BAMAKO, Mali – Soldiers arrested the head of one of Mali's biggest political parties Tuesday, hours after a former prime minister was detained by military personnel, officials said, deepening questions about whether the military is in control of the nation despite a handover of power to a civilian leader.
The coup leaders who ousted Mali's democratically elected president last month recently handed over power to an interim civilian leader, but the junta's leader also has said he will play an important role in Mali's political future.
The European Union delegation in Mali issued a statement Tuesday expressing concern about the arrests, calling for "an urgent clarification and their immediate release."
The West African regional bloc ECOWAS, the EU and the United States all want to see the junta back in their barracks and out of politics as soon as possible. The latest arrests suggest that the junta has yet to accept this.
Soumaila Cisse was arrested in front of his home in Bamako, according to Abdoul Malick Diallo, a member of parliament from Cisse's party. Diallo said that Cisse was hurt during the arrest but that he couldn't say how serious the injury was.
Cisse was one the front-runners for the presidential election that was due to take place on April 29.
Late Monday, a former Malian prime minister was re-arrested by military personnel just days after being released from custody.
Cheickna Diarra said that Modibo Sidibe was arrested at home Monday night by men who arrived in vehicles marked "military police." Diarra said he did not know why Sidibe was arrested or where he is being held.
Sidibe was among around a dozen politicians who were arrested immediately after the military coup and who were released following the handover to the civilian interim leader.
Dioncounda Traore, who heads the country's national assembly, is to serve as Mali's president for 40 days following an agreement between West African regional mediators and the leader of the junta.
Amid the political upheaval, separatist rebels in northern Mali declared an independent state that is larger than France. The power vacuum also has allowed an Islamic faction that wants to impose Shariah law in the area to flourish.