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Mauritanians Protest New Military Government


Security forces in the west African country of Mauritania have used tear gas to break up a crowd that defied a ban on street demonstrations and protested against the August military coup.

A coalition of pro-democracy groups, the National Front for the Defense of Democracy, organized Sunday's march in the capital, Nouakchott. Protesters chanted "no to dictatorship" and held pictures of ousted President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

Police broke up the larger protest in Nouakchott and a number of smaller marches. No injuries are reported.

Mauritania's military rulers face a Monday deadline by the African Union to free President Abdallahi from house arrest or face sanctions.

Mauritanian military leaders overthrew Mr. Abdallahi on August 6 when he fired top army officers. They accused the president of bungling the economy and being lenient with terrorists. He is Mauritania's first democratically elected president.

The military government already has named a cabinet headed by newly appointed Prime Minister Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf. The government has promised new elections, but has yet to announce a date.

Much of the international community has condemned the military coup. But three-fourths of the Mauritanian parliament signed a declaration backing it.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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