Hours after the Mauritanian president fired top military officials on
Wednesday morning, three of the fired officials seized the presidential
palace and established a new state council. They have announced that
President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi was no longer president of
Mauritania. For VOA, Ricci Shryock has more from Dakar.
military coup on Wednesday, three former military officials seized the
Mauritanian president, prime minister and interior minister. Hours
after they took control, one of the former generals behind the coup
announced the new council's first act was to anull the dismissal of the
Local journalist Seyid Ould Seyid says the streets of the capital, Nouakchott, remained quiet during the announcement.
strongest General of Mauritania, Mr. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, announced
himself as the president, new military president of Mauritania," he
said. "As soon as the press communiqué was announced, the signal for
the TV, they put it off. Everyone is still shocked in Mauritania."
Wednesday morning the Mauritanian president announced the firing of the
three generals. Shortly afterward, the generals took control of the
Seyid adds there has been no violence in the capital, Nouakchott.
is no demonstration from the other side to support the president," he
said. "There is no conflict in the street. It seems like in the street,
everything is controlled by the military."
Seyid says residents are using their cell phones to exchange information, because the military has shut down the local media.
national media - they are closed," he said. "We have only one national
TV, one radio. They are closed, and they are under control of the army.
People are exchanging news in a very informal way."
Abdallahi assumed power after democrat elections in 2007, two years
after generals ousted the former president in a bloodless coup.
Oil-producing Mauritania gained independence from France in 1960.
Earlier this week, most of the members of Mr. Abdallahi's party walked out of a government session in protest.
Agyeman, a Sub-Saharan analyst for Global Insight, based in London,
says Wednesday's coup is likely related to the walkout.
this has been related to the incident earlier this week, when forty
eight parliamentarians actually walked out of the ruling coalition in
protest of, well, a number of things, but mainly because of the fact
that they felt that not enough had been done to address the soaring
food price crisis," said Agyeman. "And they called for a commission to
be set up to investigate the food crisis."
On Monday, Agyeman
says the parliamentarians also requested an investigation into alleged
financial misappropriations by the president's wife.
The president denied both the investigation and food crisis commission, says Agyeman.
countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have staged riots in relation to the
rising costs of food and fuel, but Agyeman adds Mauritania was in a
uniquely unstable condition.
"The democracy is very, very new,"
said Agyeman. "And it's had a series of coups. Whilst you do have, as I
say, you know food crises and uprisings and frustrations over that. Of
course, it will put more pressure on the ruling polity to address those
issues. But to go as far to say that a coup could be expected in these
countries where food crises did occur. I think would certainly be
far-fetched at this point in time."
Agyeman says some sources
have linked the former generals to the walkout. The president is
currently being held in an undisclosed location.