First Published: 2005-08-03

 
Military coup in Mauritania
 

Military junta will rule Mauritania for no more than two years after ousting Maaouyia Ould Taya.

 

Middle East Online

Military coup led by presidential guard members

NOUAKCHOTT - Mauritanian President Maaouyia Ould Taya has been ousted and a military junta will rule in his place for no more than two years, a statement by the coup leadership said Wednesday.

"The military and the security forces have unanimously decided to put an end to the totalitarian practices of the regime from which our people have suffered so much in the last years," the statement quoted by the Mauritanian news agency said.

"These practices have put the country on a dangerous course. For this reason, the military and security forces have decided to put in place a Military Council for Justice and Democracy."

The unidentified coup leaders pledged to "establish favourable conditions for an open and transparent democratic system on which civil society and political players will be able to give their opinions freely."

"The military and security forces do not intend to hold power for longer than a period of two years, which is considered essential to prepare and establish true democratic institutions," the statement said.

Finally, the new ruling council pledged to respect all international treaties and conventions already ratified by Mauritania.

Earlier Wednesday, troops led by the presidential guard took over key buildings in Nouakchott, including the military headquarters, the state radio and television offices, the presidential palace and ministries.

They acted while Ould Taya was in Saudi Arabia for the funeral of King Fahd. He was later reported to have landed in Niamey, capital of Niger.

In June 2003 a bloody uprising failed to unseat Ould Taya, and was followed in August and September of last year by two more alleged coup attempts.

Ould Taya, who seized power himself in a bloodless coup in 1984, is a strong ally of the United States at the head of the northwest African country, which sits on an estimated one billion barrels of oil and 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

He was elected president first in 1992, again in 1997 and for a third time in November last year in an exercise condemned as a "masquerade" by the opposition.

His government recently cracked down on Islamist radicals, accusing them of links to terrorism and extremist groups in neighbouring Algeria.

In May the authoritative International Crisis Group said Nouakchott had seized on the US-led struggle against terrorism as a way to legitimize its denial of democratic rights.

In a follow-up to a March report that called Washington's militaristic approach to the terror challenge in northwest Africa "counterproductive", the Brussels-based think tank said the demonization of Islamists in mostly Muslim Mauritania could be a "very costly mistake".

In February a court condemned 84 convicted putschists and acquitted more than 100 other defendants, including former president Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla, ousted in 1984 by Ould Taya.

The 2003 coup attempt collapsed after a 36-hour gunbattle with loyalist soldiers at a military barracks near Nouakchott.

Its mastermind Saleh Ould Henenna, a former army major, told his trial that the country's deep racial and ethnic divisions were the impetus behind his bid to oust Ould Taya, who has ruled with an iron fist since 1984.

He called for "a political act of salvation for the Mauritanian people."

Life sentences were imposed in absentia on Mohamed Ould Salek and Mohamed Ould Cheikhna, the founder of an exiled band of renegade military officers known since June 2003 as Knights of Change.

Mauritania is one of just three Arab countries with diplomatic links with Israel, and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was greeted by anti-Israel graffiti and protests when he visited in May.

Israel has expressed hope that Mauritania might serve as a "bridge" between it and the Arab world and encourage other Arab nations to begin diplomatic relations.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas also visited Nouakchott a month ago.

 

Egypt declares three-month state of emergency in Sinai

Lebanon army attacks Islamists as violence spreads to Tripoli souks

Dozens dead in Huthi-Qaeda clashes in central Yemen

Punishment for sexual assault in Iran: Execution of victim!

European clubs step up campaign against winter World Cup in Qatar

Turkey keeps 24 people under observation after yellow powder scare

Russia denies Kerry claims: No agreement to train Iraq army

Germany offers to help Armenia forge peace with Turkey

Libya wakes up from ‘Dubai dream’ to face Somalia-like ‘failed state’

South Yemen separatists vow to intensify secession protests

Relatives of Iraq massacre victims: Blackwater guards should be killed

Ghannouchi makes it clear to Tunisia: It’s either political Islam or Daesh!

Deadly clashes erupt after army raid in northern Lebanon

200 Iraqi Kurd fighters to travel through Turkey to Kobane

Coalition strikes in Syria eliminate more than 500 jihadists in one month

Ahead of elections, new clashes remind Tunisia of need to fight terror

Saudi Arabia jails mothers for preparing sons to wage jihad

Jury finds Blackwater guards guilty of 2007 'massacre' in Iraq

Iraq Kurds approve reinforcements for Kobane

Israel classifies car crash as ‘hit and run terror attack’

Turkish woman arrested for stepping on Koran

Erdogan criticises US for airdrops on Kobane

Iraq schools provide shelter but late to open for classes

Syria air force shoots down two of three 'IS warplanes'

Egypt court rules on ‘Nasr City terror cell’

Fire from Egypt wounds two Israeli soldiers near border

By hook or by crook, settlers notch up property gains in East Jerusalem

Turkey envoy meets leader of parallel government in Libya

Israel arrests seven Palestinian fishermen off northern Gaza

Khamenei to Abadi: Iraq can beat 'Islamic State' without foreign troops

Saudi special court rules in cases of riots and terrorism

Libya army scores small victory in Benghazi

Only in Libya: Government calls for civil disobedience

Kasserine reaps bitter harvest from Tunisia revolution: Poverty and terrorism

Iraq Kurds set to vote on deployment of Peshmerga forces to Syria

Islamic State ‘share in US weapons’ embarrasses Pentagon

Alderton: Morocco unrivalled business gateway to sub-Saharan Africa

Protests over IS turn Istanbul University into war zone

Turkey eyes stricter punishment against lawbreakers at protests

For Sudan President: Promises are something and re-election is something else

Iran returns Abadi to ‘house of obedience’

From traditional military to counterinsurgency force: Syria army grows more capable

South Sudan rivals accept 'responsibility' for civil war

British drones in Iraq also used for Syria surveillance

Turkey launches new wave of wire-tapping arrests