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» 13.01.2010 - Italy to enhance security cooperation
» 05.10.2009 - Mauritania gets $12 million to boost food production and lower imports
» 25.03.2009 - AU maintains sanctions despite Gaddafi’s call
» 02.02.2009 - Mauritania to have new SA funded fish cannery
» 03.09.2008 - US backs ousted Mauritania regime
» 25.08.2008 - AU officials settling Mauritania's coup crisis
» 22.08.2008 - Former Mauritanian prime minister arrested again
» 20.08.2008 - Mauritanian speaker confronts junta

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Mauritania police teargas anti-coup protesters

afrol News, 8 August - 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.

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