Mauritania junta: 'Free polls' in the shortest time possible

Abdallahi, his prime minister and the interior minister were arrested on Wednesday by soldiers after he tried to sack Abdelaziz and other top military commanders after weeks of simmering political tensions.

Mauritania junta: 'Free polls' in the shortest time possible
Leaders of a military coup in Mauritania said they would hold "free and transparent" presidential elections "in the shortest time possible", according to a statement released on Thursday.

Presidential guard chief Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz set up an 11-strong council to rule the northwest African republic on Wednesday after he ousted Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, Mauritania's first freely elected president.

The coup drew international condemnation and widespread demands for Abdallahi's return to power, but many local politicians threw their weight behind the coup and planned a march on Thursday in support of the junta.

"The High State Council ... will supervise, in coordination with the institutions, political class and civil society, the organisation of presidential elections to renew the democratic process on a sustainable basis," the junta said in a statement published by national news agency AMI.

"These elections, which will be organised in as short a time as possible, will be free and transparent," it said.

The council also pledged to respect treaties and other international commitments binding Mauritania, Africa's newest oil producer.

Abdallahi, his prime minister and the interior minister were arrested on Wednesday by soldiers after he tried to sack Abdelaziz and other top military commanders after weeks of simmering political tensions.

Abdallahi won elections last year after a 2005 coup, also instigated by Abdelaziz, which ended years of dictatorship. But Abdallahi had been fighting off a series of crises in recent months.

Reuters
Last Mod: 07 Ağustos 2008, 15:15
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