Mauritania's military coup leaders are meeting regional missions and
preparing a new transitional government. The moves to consolidate their
power come despite widespread condemnations following Wednesday's
bloodless overthrow of the country's democratically elected
government. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our regional bureau in
Coup leaders met with the secretary-general of the
Arab-Maghreb union, while preparing meetings with missions from the
Arab League and African Union.
They released statements saying
an 11-man military junta led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz would
assume the powers of deposed President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi until
new elections at an unspecified date.
They also said they would
appoint a government, issue a new constitutional decree formalizing the
powers of the junta, and let other state institutions, including the
divided parliament, operate as before.
David Hartwell, the
Middle East and North Africa editor for the Jane's Country Risk
publication, says it seems the coup leaders are in power to stay.
coup is likely to succeed," he said. "There is not currently much
danger of a counter-coup. That is largely because Mauritanians are used
to military coups, but also there is no figurehead from which the
opposition can really rally around and that is the reason why the
military have still kept President Abdallahi in custody and why the
prime minister is still in custody as well, to neutralize the effect of
a possible counter-coup."
Kissy Agyeman, an Africa analyst for
London-based Global Insight, agrees the international community could
have done more to help the democratically elected government, after it
came to power last year, following another military coup that had
toppled a long-standing dictatorship.
"I think that the
international community at the time of the elections were very much
encouraging of the transition, even with the European Union calling it
a model transition," she said.
"Mauritania was re-engaging with
international donors, it was also welcome back into the African Union
fold. Of course, it is difficult for the country to have all the
institutions in place to ensure that the transition was going to last.
But the rapidity with which things have deteriorated in the country
cannot be overstated," she added.
The coup followed the president's
decision to sack top security officials, including coup leader General
Abdel Aziz who was head of the presidential guard.
which straddles black and Arab Africa, is one of the few
Muslim-majority countries with ties to Israel. It also has groups of
Islamic radicals, which have worried both Mauritanian military
officials and the U.S. government.
The United States said this week it was suspending non-humanitarian aid, including military-to-military funding.