Mauritania releases opposition activist

A Mauritanian opposition activist has been released from jail after being arrested upon his return from exile in Belgium.

    Last May's coup was put down in 36 hours

    Muhammad Jamil Wald Mansour was given conditional release on Tuesday,

    two weeks after p

    rosecutors said he was being held for leaving the country

    illegally.

    Wald Mansour escaped from prison and fled Mauritania last June

    under cover of a coup bid that rocked the capital Nouakchott for 36

    hours.

    The coup was later quelled by troops loyal to President Muawiya Wa

    ld Taya.

    "Absurd" allegations

    Mansour's lawyer, Ibrahim Wald Ebetty, called the original accusations "

    absurd" as guards had forced prisoners to leave the jail.

    The opposition activist was jailed at the start of June

    along with 40 others, many of them from Islamic organisations, for

    "plotting against the constitutional order".

    Wald Mansour, a former mayor of one of the capital's districts

    and a member of the opposition Rally of Democratic Forces (RFD),

    fled to neighbouring Senegal and then spent seven months in

    self-imposed exile in Belgium.

    Muawiya Wald Taya has been
    accused of rights abuses

    Wald Taya was reelected in November, but the main opposition

    candidate Muhammad Khouna Wald Haid Allah was arrested the day after

    the vote and later convicted for plotting a coup.

    Human rights abuses

    Mauritania has been regularly condemned for human rights abuses by international watchdogs.

    In a recent report, Amnesty International said suspects, particularly those in politically sensitive cases, were held incommunicado in the country. 

    Scores of demonstrators were ill-treated by police as they broke up demonstrations, Amnesty said. 

    And the report added that freedom of expression and the independence

     of the judiciary were under threat.

    SOURCE: AFP


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