AF-Mauritania Web

Junta frees ousted president

The military junta that ousted Mauritania’s president released him Thursday in response to international pressure, police and his family said.

Mohamed Ould Cheikh, a top police official, said former President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi had been placed under surveillance at his home in the town of Lemden, south of the capital, Nouakchott. Abdallahi’s family confirmed his release.

Cheikh said Abdallahi’s release came in response to an ultimatum from the European Union. The United States also had called for his release.

Abdallahi told Arab television network Al-Jazeera that he considered himself the rightful ruler of Mauritania.


"All that I know is that I was elected and the election was transparent and I still consider myself as a legitimate president of Mauritania," he told the broadcaster.

The Aug. 6 coup in Africa’s newest oil producer came after the president and prime minister fired the country’s four top military officials.

Coup leader Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz had accused Abdallahi of being soft on terrorism and freeing from jail radical Muslims implicated in plotting attacks on Western embassies. Abdallahi’s allies say those allegations are meant to drum up Western support.

The U.S. was allied with Abdallahi and condemned the coup and suspended aid to the country, including a military training program in the far north.

Abdallahi’s election marked the country’s first free and fair elections in two decades. Mauritania gained independence from France in 1960.

What To Read Next
Get Local