Hundreds have taken to the streets of Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott, shouting and honking car horns in celebration after the army announced it had seized power and ousted long-ruling President Moawiya Ould Tayeh. Convoys of vehicles with people hanging out the sides shouting “Praise Be to God” and making victory signs paraded down one of Nouakchott’s main avenues. (Reuters, Aug. 3)
A communique signed by the Military Council for Justice and Democracy said the coup is aimed at “putting an end to the regime’s despotic practices.” The statement, relased by official state media, said the council will rule Mauritania for a transitional period not exceeding two years “during which real democratic institutions would be created.” The president was out of the country for the funeral of Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd. A plane carrying him back home landed in Niger’s capital, Niamey, where he was informed that he had been removed from power. (UPI)
The African Union has condemned the coup, as has the US. (Reuters, AP) UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan released a statement saying he is “deeply troubled” by the coup report. (UPI) But Ould Sid’Hamed Taya had long faced growing opposition from Islamists unhappy with his closeness to Israel, black ethnicities in the south who accuse him of favoring the Arab elite, and generally by advocates for democracy and human rights. See our last post on Mauritania.