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Mauritania Forum Proposes May 30 Election

A special political forum set up by the military rulers of Mauritania is recommending that the country hold presidential elections on May 30.

Politicians, civil society representatives and religious leaders have been meeting in the capital, Nouakchott, since last week to develop a strategy for returning the country to democratic rule. A bloodless military coup ousted Mauritania's first democratically elected president in August.

The forum proposed May 30 for the presidential poll, with a second-round runoff on June 13 if needed.

The delegates also decided to allow members of the military to run for office if they resign their commissions first.  The main pro-democracy coalition, the National Front for the Defense of Democracy, objected to that decision and wanted the military barred from participating in elections.

The forum published its report and recommendations Monday but they will not become official until the meeting closes on Tuesday. All of the recommendations must be approved by the leader of the military junta ruling the country, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Ousted former President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi boycotted the talks and has said he intends to return to power.

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

The African Union suspended Mauritania's membership, and the United States has issued travel restrictions on the coup leaders.

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

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