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AU Lifts Mauritania Sanctions

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The African Union is lifting sanctions on Mauritania, following the establishment of an interim government to lead the country to elections later this month.  

The African Union's Peace and Security Council said it is lifting financial and travel sanctions because of Mauritania's progress toward restoring democratic rule.

Toppled civilian president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi formally resigned Saturday, clearing the way for a transitional government that is divided between civilian politicians and the soldiers who deposed Abdallahi last August.

General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz led that coup.  He has since resigned his military commission to run in presidential elections scheduled for July 18.

In a written statement, the AU Peace and Security Council said it is looking forward to that vote and requests that it take place in the "required conditions of transparency, fairness, and freedom."  The Council said it will keep watching the situation in Mauritania to make sure the return to democracy stays on track.

The African Union suspended Mauritania following the coup and imposed sanctions in February that included a travel ban on civilians and soldiers in the military government as well as a freeze of their assets.

The power-sharing deal was negotiated in neighboring Senegal by the African Union, along with the Arab League, the European Union, the Fancophonie, and the United Nations.

It was delayed for several weeks over disagreement about the future of the ruling military council.  Aziz wanted that council to remain in place until the vote.  Abdallahi refused to resign if it did.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade reached a compromise with the council remaining, but under the authority of the interim civilian Interior Ministry. 

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