Mali’s former military junta is denying there has been a new coup, after the resignation of the prime minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra and his government. As Diarra tried to leave the west African nation, soldiers arrested him for what they describe as “no longer working in the interests of former the country”. The military says a new a prime minister will be appointed soon. In a speech broadcast on national television on Tuesday morning confirming his resignation, Diarra, a former NASA scientist, said: “Our country, Mali, is going through the most difficult period of its history. In this moment of crisis, men and women who are worried about the future of our nation are hoping for peace. “It’s for this reason that I, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, am resigning along with my entire government on this day, Tuesday, 11 December, 2012.” Mali is currently a country divided, with Islamists in control in the north. A recent UN report describes it as being gripped by an aid disaster. Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels to seize two-thirds of the country. However, Islamist extremists, some allied with al Qaeda, have since hijacked the revolt. The EU has approved a military training mission to help the government regain control of the north.