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Gadhafi says AU Should Lift Mauritania Sanctions

Libyan leader and African Union chair Moammar Gadhafi has said he will tell African leaders to lift sanctions on Mauritania's military government. The pronouncement came as Gadhafi prepared to leave the country after failing in an attempt to mediate the crisis.

Preparing to board his plane after spending four days in Mauritania, Libyan head of state Moammar Gadhafi declared his intention to recommend that the African Union lift the sanctions imposed on Mauritania's military government.

Mr. Gadhafi, who holds the rotating head of the AU, also said he supports the Mauritanian junta's plan for June elections.

Mr. Gadhafi says the African Union should lift the asset freeze and travel ban on the military government, led by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who seized power last August in a bloodless coup.

Mr. Gadhafi was sent by the AU to mediate the political crisis in the West African state, with the mandate to find a solution acceptable to Mauritanian stakeholders and the international community.

His efforts appeared to fail on Thursday, when leaders of the National Front for Democracy Defense, or FNDD, a coalition of thirteen political parties that have opposed the coup since it took place, walked out on talks. The leaders of the organization accused Mr. Gadhafi of mocking their democratic principles and siding with the military junta.

Abdel Koudousse Ould Abdeidna, leader of the FNDD, said Mr. Gadhafi was pushing the agenda of the military junta.

"Most of the conversation was leading us to accept the coup d'etat as, what we say in French, as a fait accompli, and that we really should embrace that reality," he said.

The FNDD has said they disapprove of the junta's timetable for elections. The military government has scheduled elections for June 6, a date Mr. Gadhafi also said he stands behind, saying the AU will send election observers to assure that polls are free and fair.

But politicians across the spectrum in Mauritania have expressed doubts that elections held under the rules of the military regime can be fair. They are also intent on upholding a law which prohibits military personnel from holding public office, in response to widespread belief that General Aziz is planning a run for the office.