Mauritania's new ruling military council has freed about 20 Islamist activists who had been jailed by the ousted president.

Jubilant crowds greeted the detainees' release, which came four days after military officers overthrew long-term leader Maaouiya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya.

Critics say President Taya had rounded up the Islamist activists to stifle dissent.

Meanwhile, coup leader Ely Ould Mohamed Vall has appointed Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar as the new prime minister. He replaces Sghair Ould M'Bareck, who resigned Sunday.

The new military council has pledged to hold legislative elections within two years - with none of its members standing in the ballot.

In an interview with VOA, the council's second in charge, Mohammed Ould Abdel Azziz, pledged that those elections will be free and fair

He also said critics of the coup, including the United States, will come to see the democratic improvements the regime will make.