Source Pravda.Ru

Mauritania new regime: pros and cons

A group of officers who have seized power to end more than two decades of "totalitarian" rule by the president moved to strengthen their hold on the arid northwest African country on Thursday.

In a statement broadcast on national radio, the coup leaders' military council for justice and democracy also said the previous constitution would be maintained, although supplemented by a "military council charter".

Meanwhile thousands of citizens spilled onto the streets of the capital Nouakchott to demonstrate support for the regime, after a day in which life appeared to have returned to normal following the coup on Wednesday, News24 reports. "We are used to coups, but we hope this one will bring us a better future," said teacher Sidaty Ould Cherif.

"Everyone is pleased at what has happened," said a young woman.

The military council also began interviews with foreign ambassadors, with Vall, Colonel who headed17-member military council, meeting envoys from Arab, African and Western nations, including France and the United States, at the presidential palace, official sources said.

The Military Council for Justice and Democracy said the constitution of July 20, 1991 would be maintained and 'supplemented by a Military Council charter'.

Among the main elements of the constitution to be continued are the constitutional council, the High Islamic Council, political parties and local councils, it said. The world leaders expressed their condemnation on the military actions.

United States ambassador Joseph LeBaron told council members that Washington "condemned this extra-constitutional action and demanded the restoration of constitutional order", according to a US official in Washington who asked not to be named.

Britain, the European Union, and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan took a similar stance and the African Union (AU) suspended Mauritania's membership, despite the junta's pledge to restore democracy in two years.

On Wednesday, troops led by the presidential guard seized key buildings in the capital while Ould Taya, seen as a US ally, was out of the country at Saudi King Fahd's funeral in Riyadh. The ousted leader, unable to return home, was given refuge in the West African state of Niger.

A Western oil executive, who declined to be named, said the apparent support of senior figures in the security establishment would bolster the coup leaders' position, although they might still come under international pressure, Reuters reports.

The mostly desert country is due to start producing 75 000 barrels of crude oil per day from its offshore Chinguetti field early in 2006, and hopes to find more reserves onshore.

Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd, which operates the Chinguetti field, said operations were unaffected.

Taya angered many Arabs in the country by shifting support from former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to Israel and Washington in the 1990s.

Taya, who was in Saudi Arabia for King Fahd's funeral on Tuesday, landed in Niger's capital hours after the coup.