- Army officers today staged a coup in Mauritania, placing the democratically elected President in house arrest. The coup is reportedly led by the head of Mauritania's presidential guards.
Reports from Nouakchott indicate that President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi has been detained by the head of his presidential guards, his whereabouts being unknown. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghf also has been arrested by renegade troops and reportedly is held in army barracks.
Mauritanian sources hold that the surprise coup cam as a reaction to the President's naming of a new army head. President Abdallahi is the first democratically elected leader of Mauritania since independence, also the first not basing his power on army support.
The last few months have seen a power struggle in the Mauritanian parliament, where a large group of MPs walked out of the legislative assembly causing the presidential majority to crumble. President Abdallahi accused these MPs of being close to the armed forces and the old military regime. He thus fired the military top leaders accused of standing behind the political crisis.
Renegade troops also are reported to have taken control of all state media in Nouakchott. The relatively independent state radio and television have been shut down by the coup leaders. So far, therefore, only few unbiased reports are escaping the country.
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