Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Thursday, 4 August 2005 15:33 UK

Press divided on Mauritania coup

Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya
Overthrown President Taya is now in Niger

The military coup in Mauritania has provoked widespread condemnation in the Middle East and Africa, although Palestinian commentators welcome the removal of an Arab goverment with ties to Israel.

"Democracy yesterday suffered a setback in Mauritania" is the response of Nigeria's The Guardian to the removal of President Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya.

It is another stab in the back for the two million Mauritanians who would like to emerge from the spiral of state violence
In Mauritania's neighbour Algeria, L'Expression is equally negative, arguing that violent changes of government fly in the face of Africans' hopes for a better future.

"Mauritania's coup d'etat strikes a wrong note in the 'dreams of modernity' of the citizens of the Maghreb and Africa," it says.

The paper adds that the coup is only the latest episode in a history of government instability in Mauritania.

"It is another stab in the back for the two million Mauritanians who would like to emerge from the spiral of state violence," it says.

'No cause for joy'

Another Algerian paper, El Watan, agrees.

"This small country of fewer than three million people is in the process of breaking every record for instability," it says.

The dangerous events in Mauritania reflect the unrest in the Arab world

Algeria's Liberte warns that the new rulers' claims to have removed a "totalitarian regime" should not be believed, despite reports of street celebrations in the capital Nouakchott.

"Mauritanians' shouts of joy will gradually give way to disillusionment as the new regime reveals its true colours and strengthens its position," the paper says.

Egypt's Al-Jumhuriya voices alarm at the coup, but hints that Mr Taya's close ties to the West may have contributed to his removal from power.

"The dangerous events in Mauritania yesterday reflect the unrest in the Arab world, which is primarily caused by the superpowers interfering to force local regimes to follow policies that do not agree with the interest or hopes of their people."


However, a commentary in the Palestinian paper Al-Hayat al-Jadida is delighted at the downfall of Mr Taya, who made Mauritania one of only three Arab states to recognize Israel.

"There can't be anyone worse than Ould Taya in Mauritania," the paper says. "His relations with Israel hurt us and damaged our cause.

"There is no sorrow for Ould Taya's fall!," it concludes.

Another commentary in the same paper echoes this sentiment, slamming Mr Taya as "corrupt and tyrannical".

"The people in Nouakchott have been trying for years to clean the country and sweep away the tyrant," it argues, adding that the new rulers want a "real democracy, despite the United States' orders and Tel Aviv's wishes."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.


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