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Mauritanian Military Supporters Want US Diplomat Expelled


Supporters of Mauritania's military government want the U.S. charge d'affaires expelled after an opposition leader was quoted as saying Washington is trying to organize an alliance against new elections. The U.S. Embassy says it is not providing direct financial support to Mauritanian political parties or trade unions.

The latest round of recriminations between Washington and Nouakchott began when a local newspaper published an interview with opposition leader Ahmed Ould Daddah. The paper says he denounced U.S. Embassy interference in the country's political process for trying to organize an alliance to defy the military government.

The interview published last week quotes Daddah as rejecting a charter signed by the rival opposition National Front for the Defense of Democracy, because he says it was proposed by the U.S. Embassy to join political parties, civil society groups, and trade unions against the military's plans for June elections.

Daddah has since denied those comments as an attempt to divide the opposition.

But supporters of the military government say the interview shows the United States is trying to undermine plans for presidential elections June 6.

Speaking for the parliamentary majority, lawmaker Yahya Ould Abdul Khahar says the U.S. charge d'affaires was trying to lure Daddah into the alliance with the promise of financial support.

Two political parties supporting the ruling military council joined the parliamentary majority in calling for the government to expel the U.S. charge d'affaires.

The U.S. Embassy says it continues to provide moral and political support to those working for the return of democratic rule. It says it gives limited technical support to political parties, trade unions, local governments, community groups, and civil society organizations through national and international non-governmental organizations.

But in a written statement released late Monday, the embassy said it "does not and has not provided direct financial support to Mauritanian political or labor entities, nor has such support been requested."

The Obama administration opposes Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz running for president in June, 10 months after leading a coup that toppled the country's first freely-elected leader, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

General Aziz has ignored African Union demands to reinstate President Abdallahi, saying that would not serve the greater interests of the Mauritanian people. He has resigned his military commission to run in elections that are being boycotted by the opposition.

The U.S. Embassy statement says continued unilateral efforts toward June elections are unlikely to meet Mauritanian and international requirements for a return to democratic order. It says Washington continues to believe that a lasting and stable resolution to the crisis can only be established by the return of all constitutional institutions, including the return of President Abdallahi.

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