In Mauritania, the latest in a series of mass demonstrations supporting the new military government was firmly controlled by armed troops.
In Mauritania, the latest in a series of mass demonstrations supporting the new military government was firmly controlled by armed troops. Thousands of workers marched through the streets of the capital, Nouakchott, on Tuesday (25 July), and soldiers policing the demonstration brandished side-arms as they ran through the crowd.
SYNOPSIS: The marchers assembled outside the hospital in the city centre, and ran chanting towards the Presidential Palace, now the headquarters of the new government, a Military Committee for National Recovery. The army seized power in a bloodless coup on the 10th of July, deposing President Moktar Ould Daddah, who had rule since Mauritania gained independence from France in 1961. The new leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Moustapha Ould Salek, was formerly the Army Chief of Staff.
The demonstrators carried banners expressing their enthusiasm for the new government, and calling for peace. Mauritania has been involved in a guerrilla war against Polisario forces in the Western Sahara for more than two years. Backed by Algeria, the Polisario rebels have been fighting for independence since Spain ceded its former colony of the Western Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania in 1976.
Colonel Ould Salek met the demonstrators outside the Palace. In an impromptu speech, he reaffirmed his desire for peace, but stressed the need for calm, unity and discipline.