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Power-Sharing Deal Signed in Mauritania

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Mauritania's toppled civilian president has formally resigned as a part of a power-sharing deal with the nation's military rulers. 

Nearly eleven months after he was toppled in a military coup, Mauritanian President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi resigned as part of a regionally-brokered power-sharing deal.

Mr. Abdallahi says he is setting Mauritania on the path of democracy and social harmony by being the first president to resign willingly from office in return for guarantees related to the interests of the nation.

Mr. Abdallahi was overthrown last August in a military coup led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz who has since resigned his military commission to run for president in elections scheduled for next month.

Aziz and Abdallahi supporters shouted at each other outside the conference center where the civilian president stepped down, but there was no violence.

His resignation clears the way for the establishment of an interim government of national unity to lead the country until the next vote.

General Aziz nominates the prime minister of that government along with 14 other ministers. The remaining 15 ministries - including Interior, Finance, and Information - will be divided between the National Front for the Defense of Democracy - which supports Abdallahi - and the rival opposition Assembly of Democratic Forces.

The power-sharing deal was negotiated in neighboring Senegal in talks backed by the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union, the Francophonie, and the United Nations.

But it was delayed for weeks over disagreement about the ruling military council that was established after last August's coup. General Aziz wanted that council to remain in place until the vote. Mr. Abdallahi refused to resign if it did.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade brokered a compromise. The council will remain, but under the authority of the interim civilian Interior Ministry.

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