Mauritanian military seizes power in bloodless coup (Second Lead)August 6th, 2008 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS
Nouakchott (Mauritania), Aug 6 (DPA) A military junta Wednesday seized power in Mauritania following the arrests of the president and prime minister, local news agency ANI reported. A “state council” under the leadership of presidential guard commander Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz had taken power, according to a declaration which was read out on television.
The decision taken by toppled president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi to sack four top military officers was not valid, the declaration said.
Troops earlier entered the presidential palace and arrested Cheikh Abdallahi, Radio France Internationale (RFI) quoted his daughter as saying.
Sources associated with the presidency said Cheikh Abdallahi and Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghf were being held under house arrest.
The interior minister was also in custody, al-Jazeera television reported.
Ould Abdel Aziz had been among the top military officers sacked just before the coup.
Local observers reported demonstrations in favour of the coup by Mauritanians who accused the president of corruption and described him as having done a poor job in running the north-west African desert country.
Troops took strategic positions in the capital Nouakchott, but there were no reports of violence or detentions.
Local television and radio went off the air.
Cheikh Abdallah was elected in 2007 in a vote described as the first really transparent presidential election in the Islamic Republic, a former French colony.
The vote capped a series of polls that were seen as having turned Mauritania into an African democracy model following a history of coups and the 1984-2005 dictatorship of Maaouya Ould Taya.
Recently, however, Cheikh Abdallahi had run into political trouble, with 48 MPs walking out of the ruling party following a vote of no-confidence in the government.
Cheikh Abdallahi had been criticised for rejecting the establishment of a commission to investigate the financing of a foundation run by his wife.
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