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Ousted Mauritania President Freed From House Arrest


Mauritanian officials say ousted President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi has been released from house arrest.

Authorities say security forces drove the deposed president 250 kilometers from the confinement of his native village of Lemden to the capital, Nouakchott, where he was freed Sunday.

The military junta that overthrew Mr. Abdallahi had recently announced that the former president would be freed unconditionally before the end of the month.

In an interview with VOA News Sunday, Mr. Abdallahi said that he refuses to take part in upcoming talks organized by the military junta on setting a date for the elections, adding that he intends to return to power. The talks are scheduled for December 27.

Mr. Abdallahi, Mauritania's first democratically-elected president, was deposed in a bloodless coup in August. The coup leaders accused him of economic mismanagement and being too soft on terrorists.

The African Union suspended Mauritania's membership after the coup, and warned of possible sanctions.

In October, the United States issued travel restrictions on the leaders of the coup.

The European Union had called on the military junta to restore Mr. Abdallahi to the presidency or face sanctions.

The junta has been trying to avoid more sanctions from the international community, after development and military aid was scaled back.

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