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World Briefing / MAURITANIA

Head of coup leads march

August 08, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

The general who toppled Mauritania's government led a triumphal march through the capital, Nouakchott, declaring that he is "determined to save democracy" as police elsewhere in the city fired tear gas at people protesting the coup.

Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz's takeover returned military rule to the desert country that last year held its first election regarded as free and fair in more than 20 years.

Mauritania won international praise for that vote, which saw President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi elected after a two-year transition to civilian rule that began with the army's 2005 ouster of a dictator.

On Wednesday, military officers loyal to Abdelaziz stormed the president's office and took Abdallahi prisoner. Abdelaziz has said elections will be held "as soon as possible" but has not said when that might be.

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