Mali forms new unity government under PM Diarra

Malian interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra pictured at a meeting with leaders from northern Mali on 10 August 2012 Prime Minister Diarra has led a fractious interim government since April

A new government of national unity has been formed in Mali in the latest effort to restore stability after a military coup in March.

The cabinet is comprised of 31 ministers, including five seen as close to coup leader, Capt Amadou Sanogo.

The head of the existing shaky interim government, Cheick Modibo Diarra, stays on as prime minister.

Last month, the regional bloc Ecowas threatened to expel Mali unless a unity government was installed.

The composition of the new cabinet was announced in a statement read out on state television.

Mali has been in flux since the March coup allowed Islamists and Tuareg separatists to seize the entire northern half of the country.

In response to international and regional pressure, the military junta in Bamako nominally handed over power to the interim government in April, but has remained influential.

Plagued by infighting, the transitional cabinet has failed to restore order and hold elections aimed at restoring constitutional rule.

In July, interim President Dioncounda Traore required hospital treatment after being beaten by supporters of the coup.

In northern Mali, Islamist fighters have have taken over several key cities in the area following the rupture of their alliance with the secularist Tuareg forces .

Since then, attempts to impose a radical view of shariah law, including the amputation of an alleged thief's hand and the stoning of an unwed couple, have prompted fears the area could become a haven for radical Islamists.

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