Mali's interim prime minister has formed a new government, giving three military personnel linked to the coup that overthrew the former democratically-elected government key cabinet positions.

The decree naming the government, signed by Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra and President Diacounda Traore, was announced on state television Wednesday.

Diarra, a renowned astrophysicist and former head of Microsoft Africa, was named prime minister on April 17, five days after Traore's inauguration.

The military representatives now lead the ministries of defense, internal security, and the interior in the newly appointed 24-member cabinet. The remainder of the government is made up of civilians, none of whom served in the former government.

Mali's new government emerged one month after the March 22 coup, led by Capt. Amadou Sanogo and comprised mostly of low-ranking members of the army.  The junta cited its takeover over its unhappiness with the former government's ineffectual response to the ongoing ethnic Tuareg rebellion, which now controls the northern half of the country.

The junta agreed to give way to a civilian government in a deal backed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc. ECOWAS has called for a return to democracy since the junta took power.

Sanogo insists his military committee will continue to play a supervisory role until new elections are held, Mali-based journalist Martin Vogl told the BBC

Diarra said during his first speech as prime minister on April 20 that he was willing to negotiate with rebels, but not under duress.  This is a marked transition from the government's previous hard-line rhetoric towards the Tuareg rebels.

Mali's current situation is the result of a deficit from the government and a lack of capacity to anticipate, Agence France Presse quoted Diarra as saying.

A coalition consisting of about 50 political parties and civil organizations opposed to the junta said it was not consulted before the government's formation, Reuters reports.

Soldiers occupy the key positions when the focus should be returning the army to the barracks, the group said in a statement. The group insisted it would not interfere with the government's work, however.

The new government comes after the arrests of several allies of the former president, including former prime minister Modibo Sidibe and the former defense minister.  Most are no longer in custody.

Ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure formally resigned on April 8. He fled to neighboring Senegal with his family last week, after having taken refuge at the Senegalese embassy in the Malian capital of Bamako.  

The Tuareg rebellion, calling itself the Azawad National Liberation Movement, took advantage of the coup and has since declared autonomy for the northern desert region, a move condemned by the international community.