[QODLink]
Middle East
Mauritanian police break up protest
Clash in Nouakchott occurs as AU deadline for reinstating ousted president expires.
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2008 23:51 GMT

Abdallahi was Mauritania's first democratically-elected leader [AFP]

Police in Mauritania have clashed with protesters supporting Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, the ousted president.

On the same day, the African Union urged the ruling generals once again to reinstate the country's first democratically elected leader.

Violence erupted in the capital Nouakchott on Tuesday when riot police tried to break up an anti-coup demonstration with tear gas.

After calling for peaceful protest marches, six Mauritanian unions announced in the afternoon that they had changed tactics.

"Today we have decided to go ahead with our planned protests but we have changed strategy and instead of a peaceful march we will seek a confrontation," Samory Ould Beye, a union leader, told the AFP news agency.

Fateful showdown

Ould Cheikh Abdallahi was overthrown on August 6, hours after he issued a decree firing the military's top brass, including Ould Abdel Aziz, who was the commander of the presidential guard.

Since the coup, the generals have taken over the powers of the president and formed a new government with the support of a majority of the deputies in parliament.

The new leadership has promised to hold elections quickly, but no date has been set and parliament has voted to delay a presidential vote by at least a year.

AU pressure

In a related development, a delegation of generals met African Union officials in Addis Ababa, one day after an AU deadline for reinstating the deposed president passed unheeded despite the threat of sanctions.

Jean Ping, the AU chief, "took the opportunity ... to reiterate the  African Union's standpoint" that Mauritania should reinstate Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, the organisation said in a statement after the meeting.

The statement said that "in the face of the absence of a return to constitutional order" in the west African country, its Peace and Security Council would make propositions "at the right time" on how to move forward.

The army says Ould Cheikh Abdallahi has been kept under house arrest but his daughter says his whereabouts are unknown.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
An estimated 36 people die each day in embattled town where pro-Russia rebel separatists fight Ukrainian soldiers.
People are starving in southern Somalia while relief efforts are blocked by government and rebel fighting.
join our mailing list