The African Union
(AU) says it is working with the international community to bring more
pressure on Mauritania's military junta to return the country to democracy
despite the junta's refusal to abide by an AU ultimatum, which expired Monday. The
military leaders said the ultimatum to restore democracy would not be in
Mauritania's best interest. The African Union's demand for a return to
constitutional rule is backed by the United States and the European Union,
which have unanimously condemned the August 6 coup.
African Union has also expressed concern about the wellbeing of the country's
only democratically elected President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi who is being
by the military junta under house arrest.
Commissioner Rantane Lamamra
is the AU's special envoy who recently negotiated with Mauritania's new
military Junta. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the Ethiopian capital,
Addis Ababa that the African Union will not allow any member country to flout
the AU charter.
"It is a process I think; it
is not an end to the whole the story. The African Union is determined to pursue
its action fully consistent with its own democratic doctrine. It is upheld by
all our member states and supported by most of the international community and
indeed supported as well by growing numbers of Mauritanians themselves. We
wanted Mauritanians themselves to be assisted in every way we could to find a
way to come back to democratic process through reconciliation, healing,
accepting each other and abiding by the rule of law," Lamamra said.
He said there was need to
restore the deposed democratically elected president.
"There is a legitimate
president who has been elected democratically. The Mauritanian democratic
experience was then universally hailed as exemplary for other nations, and we
just want Mauritanians to remain a democratic nation and to eventually solve
whatever differences there may exist between the political leaders through
constitutional means," he said.
Lamamra said the African
Union is concerned about the wellbeing of the deposed president who is
currently being held against his will after he was overthrown on August 6.
"We are worried about the
very fact that the elected president of the republic has been now deprived of
his liberties for the last two months. And therefore we would not stop working
very hard to make sure that the president is regaining his liberty as well as
his office," Lamamra pointed out.
He said the African Union is
working with international partners to ensure the problems in Mauritania are
"Now, we are in the midst of
consultations, intensive consultations with our partners and with the
Mauritanians themselves as well as African leaders, European, and American
partners. And we feel that dialogue is still available and our resources of
diplomacy have not been exhausted as far as the legality is concerned," he
Lamamra said all options are
available to the African union to exploit in order to ensure democracy is
"The Peace and Security
Council of the African Union has definitely stated that the situation cannot be
upheld as it is, and therefore, everything should be brought to bear so that we
can restore the democratic process," Lamamra noted.
He reiterated the African
Union's willingness to work with its international partners to pressure the
military junta to return Mauritania to constitutional rule.
"Very, very closely, but I
cannot speak extensively on the details of the action about the consultations,
which are going on, but I can just assure you that we are working very closely
with all the partners (United States, European Union), the Arab League and
others," he said.
the country's military leadership is threatening to turn to Arab partners for
aid and development funds if western donors slash their assistance to the
The United States and former
colonial power France suspended some non-humanitarian aid in response to the
coup and the World Bank froze millions of dollars of development lending.
European Union, Washington and the African Union have threatened more sanctions
against the coup leaders unless they release Mauritania's democratically
elected president and restore him to office.