Army stages coup in Mauritania; president under arrest
Soldiers in Mauritania seized President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, his prime minister and the interior minister on Wednesday, a presidency source said, according to Reuters. Troops gathered at the presidential palace after Abdallahi replaced senior army officers earlier on Wednesday during a political crisis.
The coup took place after the president and prime minister fired the country's top four military officials, reportedly for supporting lawmakers who had accused the president of corruption. A brief statement read over state television Wednesday said the new "state council" will be led by presidential guard chief Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, one of the four fired generals. The announcement also restored the jobs of the other three generals.
Abdallahi was being held by soldiers at the presidential palace in Nouakchott, according to presidential spokesman Abdoulaye Mamadouba. Soldiers also detained Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waqef, he said.
On Monday, 48 members of the country's parliament announced that they were resigning from the ruling party to form a new political group, a spokesman said. The declaration of the mass resignation was signed by 25 deputies and 23 senators of the ruling party, the National Pact for Democracy and Development, or PNDD.
They criticized the exercise of "personal power" by the president, adding he had "disappointed the hopes of Mauritanians," said a spokesman for the rebellious lawmakers, Sidi Mohamed Ould Maham. "The democratic process has been diverted from its normal course," he said, according to AFP. He called on other members of the PNDD to join them in forming a new party.
With the mass exodus from the PNDD it no longer has a majority in parliament.
The Mauritanian president last month threatened to dissolve parliament after the rebellious lawmakers had filed a motion of no confidence in its new government, which then resigned.