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Mauritanian Parliament Meets Without Pro-Democracy Chairman


The Mauritanian parliament on Monday met for the first time in regular session and for only the second time since a coup d'etat three months ago. However, it opened without its chairman who is boycotting the body because of the government overthrow. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from our West Africa Bureau in Dakar.

The political standoff in Mauritania continued Monday as the National Assembly held its first regular session, but under the chairmanship of its vice president - Al-Arabi Ould Jideine.

He said he regrets the unjustified absence of the National Assembly president and says the country's political crisis can be solved only by serious national dialogue and political sacrifice.

The vice chairman supported the coup d'etat that overthrew Mauritania's first democratically elected president in nearly two decades, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdellahi, who is now under house arrest.

The President of the National Assembly, Messoude Ould Boulkhaire, opposes the coup. He told VOA (reporter Seyid Ould Seyid) that he boycotted the session because of the absence of legitimate leadership.

He said political institutions have been frozen since the coup and the detention of President Abdellahi because the presidency is the most important institution of the country.

He said the coup leaders are trying to convince the world that all is working normally in Mauritania, but that this will not be the case as long as there is no restoration of democracy.

The National Assembly session met on Monday primarily to discuss Mauritania's budget.

About two weeks after the coup, the parliament held an emergency session, which was also boycotted by members who opposed the government takeover. The Assembly passed a law creating a special court to try the deposed president and his wife on charges of corruption and failed leadership.

Monday's session came 10 days before a deadline by the European Union for Mauritania to restore its democratically elected leadership or face sanctions.

The African Union has suspended Mauritania's membership and last month threatened diplomatic isolation and possible sanctions against the government.

Mauritania's leadership rejects the pressure, saying a solution to the impasse can be found only through dialogue and negotiations.

The Mauritanian parliament on Monday met for the first time in regular session and for only the second time since a coup d'etat three months ago. However, it opened without its chairman who is boycotting the body because of the government overthrow. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from our West Africa Bureau in Dakar.

The political standoff in Mauritania continued Monday as the National Assembly held its first regular session, but under the chairmanship of its vice president - Al-Arabi Ould Jideine.

He said he regrets the unjustified absence of the National Assembly president and says the country's political crisis can be solved only by serious national dialogue and political sacrifice.

The vice chairman supported the coup d'etat that overthrew Mauritania's first democratically elected president in nearly two decades, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdellahi, who is now under house arrest.

The President of the National Assembly, Messoude Ould Boulkhaire, opposes the coup. He told VOA (reporter Seyid Ould Seyid) that he boycotted the session because of the absence of legitimate leadership.

He said political institutions have been frozen since the coup and the detention of President Abdellahi because the presidency is the most important institution of the country.

He said the coup leaders are trying to convince the world that all is working normally in Mauritania, but that this will not be the case as long as there is no restoration of democracy.

The National Assembly session met on Monday primarily to discuss Mauritania's budget.

About two weeks after the coup, the parliament held an emergency session, which was also boycotted by members who opposed the government takeover. The Assembly passed a law creating a special court to try the deposed president and his wife on charges of corruption and failed leadership.

Monday's session came 10 days before a deadline by the European Union for Mauritania to restore its democratically elected leadership or face sanctions.

The African Union has suspended Mauritania's membership and last month threatened diplomatic isolation and possible sanctions against the government.

Mauritania's leadership rejects the pressure, saying a solution to the impasse can be found only through dialogue and negotiations.

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