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Mauritania Junta Leader Announces Candidacy for June Elections


Mauritania's military leader Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz has made good on his promise to stand as a candidate in the country's June sixth presidential election. He announced Sunday that he planned to hand over leadership to the Senate president before April 22.

General Abdelaziz ousted President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, Mauritania's first democratically elected president in August last. The African Union suspended Mauritania from its membership and said last month it would impose travel bans and asset freezes on officials involved in the coup. General Abdelaziz's announcement came as an African Union delegation was in Mauritania to mediate the political crisis there.

Moussa Oumar Diop, first councilor at the Mauritanian Embassy in Washington told VOA General Abdelaziz's decision to stand for president was good for all Mauritanians, both black and white.

"I know exactly last election was very clear and very democratic. I know that. But the people who were elected disappointed the Mauritanian people. When you are outside you cannot know that, but when you go to Mauritania 100 percent need the change, and they are with this new president who made the coup because I know exactly this man. He will take care of everybody, the black and the white because the situation of Mauritania, you have to know that, is black and white," he said.

General Abdelaziz's announcement came as an African Union delegation was in Mauritania to mediate the political crisis there.

The African Union suspended Mauritania from its membership and said last month it would impose travel bans and asset freezes on officials involved in the coup.

But Diop cited Libyan leader and current African Union chairman Moamer Kadhafi who said last month that the African Union's Peace and Security Council had no independent authority to impose sanctions on Mauritania.

"In my opinion, that's right for the African people, but don't forget the president of the African Union, Libyan President Kadhafi, he came to Mauritania one month ago to make the arrangement between the military and different political parties in Mauritania. He's the president for the African Union; it's him who should tell us about the sanctions," Diop said.

On Sunday, one group of the Mauritanian opposition came out in favor of taking part in the June elections, signaling a split in the opposition that was blamed on the military junta.

Diop said those calling themselves the opposition represented only about five percent of the Mauritanian population who he said once held power but did nothing for the Mauritanian people.

"These people who are the opposition, when you come to know them, you will see they are only five percent or four percent of the population. All these people they didn't do something for Mauritania since we got our independence. I know them; they need only to get to their family, to get to their close relatives. They are fighting for their interest. But this military leader I know, he's our hope in Mauritania. I'm sure he will make a justice for Mauritania because you don't need the people who talk about Mauritania for four years but did not do anything for Mauritania," Diop said.

Still, Diop said he was not glorifying military interventions in Mauritania or in Africa as a whole.

"I never in my life supported coup d'etat, but this one is right because the people who were elected, they disappointed the population. The Ex-President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, what did he do for Mauritania since two years? He left his wife doing everything; the prime minister he can't talk only his wife. He spent his time travelling. This is not democracy, and he didn't do anything for the black people of Mauritania to make a justice between the populations," Diop said.

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