Page last updated at 14:43 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 15:43 UK

Politicians back Mauritania coup

March in support of Mauritania's coup, 11 August 2008
There have been demonstrations both for and against the coup

The new military ruler in Mauritania has been boosted by support from many of the country's politicians.

More than two-thirds of the members of parliament, and the same proportion of senators, have put their names to a statement supporting last week's coup.

The new junta has appointed the north-west African nation's ambassador to the EU as its prime minister.

The coup, which drew widespread international criticism, has been given a mixed reception domestically.

The country's first democratically elected president was toppled in the takeover.

Mauritania has seen more than 10 coup attempts, several of them successful, over the last three decades.

At least 67 of the country's 95 parliament members and 37 out of 56 senators have put their names to the statement supporting General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz's takeover.

Gen Muhammad Ould Abdelaziz

The politicians said the army had merely done its duty in removing President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, who they accused of acting anti-constitutionally.

They called on the international community to accept the undemocratic change of power in the interests of the stability of the country.

The military junta has named Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf, its ambassador to the EU in Brussels, as its new prime minister, reported the state AMI news agency.

Mr Laghdaf will be charged with "forming a transitional government", an unidentified source quoted by the AFP news agency said.

Gen Mohamed Abdelaziz has promised to hold fresh presidential elections in the oil-producing African nation but has given no timeframe.

The international community has reacted strongly against the coup.

The African Union suspended Mauritania, and the United States and France froze some aid programmes.

On Wednesday, the African affairs minister in neighbouring Algeria told a delegate from Mauritania that the country should return to the constitutional system.

Some nine political parties in Mauritania have expressed opposition to the coup.


They have held rallies to call for the return of the ousted President Abdallahi, who was taken captive during the military takeover.

Map of Mauritania

On Wednesday, dozens of women were reportedly dispersed by teargas as they protested against the country's new military rulers in Nouakchott.

But the show of support by the parliamentarians will go some way to boosting the credibility of the coup leader, General Abdelaziz, says the BBC's James Copnall in the capital, Nouakchott.

It makes it clear most politicians back the coup leaders, he says.

Some believe the former president's inability to deal with rising food prices and the persistent allegations of corruption against his wife made him unfit for office.

Others are clearly carrying favour with the new military leadership, our correspondent adds.

The statement said that MPs and others had tried but failed to "diminish the stubbornness of the former president, who only listened to his courtesans."

General Abdelaziz has been holding meetings with a number of high-profile politicians, as he attempts to form a new government, a further attempt to increase his legitimacy.

Al Jazeera Mauritanian coup leaders name PM - 7 hrs ago
ABC Online Mauritania junta names respected diplomat as PM - 13 hrs ago
CNN Mauritania's junta appoints prime minister - 21 hrs ago
Washington PostMauritania junta names ex-ambassador prime minister - 24 hrs ago
New StatesmanA welcome coup - 29 hrs ago
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