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US Imposes Travel Sanctions on Mauritania Coup Leaders


The U.S. State Department has issued travel restrictions on leaders of the military coup that toppled the Mauritania government in August.

In a statement Friday State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the restrictions apply to travel by members of the military junta, its supporters and all that worked to undermine Mauritania's return to constitutional rule.

McCormack says the people of Mauritania deserve the right to the democracy they worked so hard to obtain.

He says the United States strongly supports efforts of the African Union and calls for the unconditional release of President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi as well as the return to constitutional rule.

The sanctions would restrict travel to the United States

General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and other Mauritanian generals overthrew the president on August 6 after he fired top army officers. Mr. Cheikh Abdallahi remains under house arrest.

He is the nation's first democratically elected president.

Earlier this month, General Abdel Aziz told VOA he has called for a national gathering to decide the future of the country, including the date of new presidential elections.

He said the gathering of Mauritanians should decide who would be eligible to run in elections to replace the deposed president. He says the meeting could help restore constitutional order in the country.

Abdel Aziz defended the coup, telling VOA it was necessary because Mr. Cheikh Abdallahi "mismanaged the economy" and was "lenient to terrorists."

The African Union has called on the country's military leaders to reinstate the president or face increased isolation and possible sanctions. Mauritania's military rulers have ignored the demand.

The government has promised new elections. But no date has been set for those polls.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.