Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall said on Al-Arabiya on Tuesday that his predecessor had "the right to live in his country as a free citizen and to benefit from the advantages which the law grants to former heads of state".

Taya was ousted from power in a bloodless coup in August 2005 by the now ruling Military Council for Justice and Democracy (CMJD) while he was visiting Saudi Arabia.

He now lives in Qatar.

Under an election timetable set out by the military council as  part of the democratic transition, a constitutional referendum is planned for June 25 while municipal and parliamentary elections are scheduled for November.

Maaouiya Ould Taya lives in exile
in Qatar

A presidential poll and senatorial elections are set for March  2007.

Members of the transitional CMJD and the government are not  allowed to take part "in the upcoming elections to guarantee all the impartiality necessary for a transparent democratic process" said Vall, adding it "could not be different" for a former president.

He said participation in these polls by Taya would probably "skew the political game, disadvantage the rest of the political community and literally distort the reorganisation objectives undertaken by the CMJD".

"At the end of the transition, he will be able take part in  politics if he so wishes," Vall added.