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A former slave, an economist and a general are vying for the top job in Nouakchott.
Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera correspondent
Mauritania's popular junta is restoring democracy after nearly half a century of dictatorship.
Mauritanians head to the polls in parliamentary elections.
Security forces in Mauritania have detained five male relatives of former president, Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, for plotting to destabilise the country days before a national referendum.

The ruling military council of Mauritania has freed 32 political detainees after a comprehensive amnesty decree.

Asim Khan
Mauritania's ousted president Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya arrived in Qatar on Monday after being overthrown in a bloodless coup earlier this month.
Jubilant at the ousting of their president, Mauritanians have cast aside international condemnation and pledged support for a military government that has promised to lead them to democratic rule.

Mauritania's new military government has told the country's main political parties that elections would follow a constitutional referendum to be held within a year and that none of its members would stand.

Israel is closely watching developments in Nouakchott after Wednesday's military coup that has overthrown President Maaouya Sid'Ahmed Taya.
Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

Soldiers have surrounded Mauritania's state radio and blocked off streets in the capital while President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya was out of the country, in what a diplomat said could be a coup attempt.

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