- Hundreds of people protesting against a military coup in Mauritania have been teargased by the police in the capital Nouachott.
Renegade soldiers on Wednesday detained president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi and prime minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghf after the former had fired four top military officials.
General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the head of presidential guards who was also among the sacked officials, was later named the leader of the military council that ousted Mauritania's first democratically elected leader from power.
The prime minister was reported to have been held at a barracks in Nouakchott, but the whereabouts of the president remains a mystery. His family is yet to set eyes on him, and expressed concern about his health and security.
After the coup, the military installed an 11-member "state council" promising to hold "free and transparent" presidential polls as soon as possible. It also promised to open dialogue with all political parties and civil society groups on how elections would be organised.
The junta is yet to tell the public how long it intended to stay in power. On Thursday, the coup leader led a triumphal march in Nouachott, expressing determination to "save democracy."
Commanding a large following, General Aziz said the coup had brought an end to dictatorship, nepotism, chaos and disorder.
The coup leader said the military will respect personal liberties and allow parliament to function freely.
Public opinion was divided on the justification of the coup, which came on the heels of several calls by lawmakers that the Abdallahi regime had failed to improve the economy and allowed corruption and bad governance to reel at an alarming rate.
Some Mauritanians who expect great changes support the military action, but others fear its negative impact on the country's emerging democractic process.
The coup has got the blessing of some lawmakers whose spokesman blamed President Abdallahi for turning his back on the military after he got into office.
But most people seem to be concerned about plans to arrest the hikes in food prices and other basic goods in a country that imports 70% of its food items.
The international community reacted to the coup with swiftness, with the European Union and the United States suspending millions of dollars in military and development assistance to the West African country.
The junta has been asked to quickly restore constitutional rule and free Mr. Abdallahi and Mr. Waghf.
Hans-Gert Poettering, the president of EU Parliament said the coup "has swept away the electoral choices taken by Mauritanians in favor of a government enjoying democratic legitimacy."
Gonzalo Gallegos, a spokeman of the US State Department said the US $4.9 million food aid will continue.
French government also damned the coup, and rejected the junta's plans to hold fresh presidential elections.
President Abdallahi, 68, was elected to office in March 2007 ending a two-year military rule.
Since its independence from France in 1960, the oil-rich nation had become synonymous with military coups.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.