Ousted Mauritanian prime minister arrested after march against coup

Mauritanian authorities re-arrested ousted prime minister Yahya Ould Ahmed El Waghef Aug. 21 after he led a protest march in opposition to this month’s military coup. Deposed president Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi has been held by the army since the Aug. 6 coup. Waghef was freed five days later and vowed to campaign to restore Abdallahi to power. He was arrested as he traveled to the northern port of Nouadhibou for another march. The Aug. 20 march in Nouakchott, the capital, was one of the largest in Mauritania’s history, bringing out some 15,000. A group of political parties and civil organizations opposed to the coup have formed a National Front for the Defense of Democracy (FNDD), which reports police have seized its campaign banners and prevented it from holding protests in recent days. (BBC, Reuters, Aug. 21)

On Aug. 19, the leader of the Mauritanian Human Rights Association (AMDH), Fatimata M’Baye, protested police violence against union activists that day, including the secretary general of the Free Confederation of Mauritanian Workers (CLTM), Samory Ould Bey. The unionists were assaulted and arrested while attempting to hold a protest against the coup. (Afrique en Ligne, Aug. 20) Coup leader Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz held his own rally in Nouakchott Aug. 18, claiming 30,000 came out in support of his power grab. (BBC, Aug. 18)

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