Military officials who staged a coup in Mauritania have named an army colonel as the West African country's new president.

A statement issued Wednesday by the Military Council for Justice and Democracy says Colonel Ely Ould Mohammed Vall is the new leader of Mauritania.

The statement was broadcast on state-run media.

Colonel Vall had been the national police chief.

Earlier in the day, the Council announced the overthrow of President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya.  The coup leaders say the Council will run Mauritania for two years, allowing time to create what it called open and transparent democracy. 

The group justified the takeover saying it wanted to end the totalitarian practices of Mr. Taya's government.

Hundreds of people took to the streets of the capital to celebrate the end of Mr. Taya's 20-year rule. 

The United States, the African Union and the United Nations have condemned the bloodless coup.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP.