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Mauritanians report on today's coup

The blog of the Parti Mauritanien pour la Défense de l'Environnement Les Verts (Mauritanian Party for the Defense of the Environment – The Green Party) is celebrating the coup against Mauritanian president Ould Sid Ahmed Taya, offering an article titled Démonstrations de joie dans les rues de Nouakchott” (Demonstrations of Joy in the Streets of Nouakchott). PMDE may have been the first blog to break the news, announcing at 12:21 local time, “Coup d'Etat de la garde présidentielle en Mauritanie, des tirs à l'arme lourde entendus à Nouakchott”. (Coup d'Etat by the presidential guard in Mauritania, shots from heavy weapons heard in Nouakchott.)

Online news service Mauritanie-Web.com reported a “tentative coup” at 7:16, a “confused situation in Noukchott” at 11:24 and a definitive report of a coup at 11:38, quoting Agence France Press. Mauritanie-Web reported later today that the Presidential Guards had taken control of radio and TV stations, ministry buildings, army facilities, and blocked access to the city. Their reporter briefly spoke to the head of the presidential guard:

Interrogé sur ce qui se passe, Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz, chef de la garde présidentielle, s'est contenté de répondre: “A vous de voir ce qu'il y a”.

(Asked what had happened, Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz, chief of the Presidential Guard, was content to respond, “You can see what's going on.”)

Summarizing the events of the day, Mauritanie-web offers the observation “Trois tentatives de coup d'Etat depuis juin 2003, la 4è a réussi” (Three attempted coups since June 2003, the fourth one succeeds.)

OULD, a new blog focused on events in Mauritania (unclear whether the author is inside or outside the country), offered speculation earlier today that the coup leader would be Colonel Ould Abdel Aziz. Posting on a message board, bould echoes OULD's speculation, listing the names of “les putschistes”:

Je vous livre les noms des principaux putschistes:
Colonnel Mohamed ould Abdel Aziz (Basep) garde présidentielle Wilaya inchiri tribu awlad Besbai
Colonnel Ely ould Mohamed Vall (Directeur de la police) et cousin de ould Abdel Aziz Wilaya inchiri tribu awlad Besbai
Colonnel Ould Mohamed Znagui 6ème région militaire Wilaya inchiri tribu awlad Lab
Colonnel Ould Gazwani Blindé (tagant assaba) tribu Ideiboussat
Colonnel Chef d'état major nationale Adjoint.
un communique sera li à la radio peut être qu'ils attendent de convaincre les autres chefs qu'ils ont mis au arrêts (Ould Riha,El Arbi,ould Eyih)

There's an extensive conversation taking place regarding the coup in the ForumDiaspora Yahoo! Group. One post appears to be a communique from organizers of the coup. Signed by “Les Justiciers du Désert” (Dispensers of Justice in the Desert) it states, in part:

Ce jour 3/08/05 doit rester à jamais immortalisé dans notre mémoire.En effet des membres de nos vaillantes Forces Armées ont décidé de mettre fin au calvaire de notre Valeureux Peuple,qui souffre depuis plus de vingt ans sous le joug d'un régime raciste,ségrégationniste,esclavagiste et corrompu

(The date of August 8th must be forever immortalized in out memory. In effect, the members of our valiant armed forces decided to put an end to the martyrdom of our valorous people who have suffered for more than twenty years under the yoke of a racist, segregationist, enslaving and corrupt regime.)

Mohamed Ali Ould Veten, writing in the same forum, observes that while the African Union has condemned the coup, there's been silence from the Maghreb on the subject. He speculates that Taya's government had been too friendly with the United States – and indirectly, with Israel – and that few in the region will shed tears over his departure.

Alioune Ly, also writing in the ForumDiaspora group, condemns the coup and expresses his ongoing support for Taya:

Dans ces instants où tous les opportunistes se rassemblent et pretent allegence, je tiens à asummer pleinement devant Dieu et les hommes mon soutien à Maao uya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya aujourd'hui encore plus qu'hier. Cet homme patriote, republicain et visionnaire restera à jamais comme celui qui a tenté contre vents et marées de sortir la Mauritanie des tenebres et cela malgré l'opposition des extremistes islamo-esclavagistes qui viennent de prendre le pouvoir.

(At the moment when all the opportunists assemble and pretend alliegance, I pledge before God and man my support for Maao uya Ould Sid’ Ahmed Taya today even more than yesterday. This patriotic man, republican and visionary will stand forever against the winds and the tides of those who want to lead Mauritania into darkness, in spite of the opposition of the islamo-slave extremists who have just seized power.)

We're looking hard for first-hand accounts of the events in Nouakchott, and we could use the help of fluent French speakers in translating posts from Mauritanian blogs and discussion groups – if you're interested in helping us understand what's going on in Mauritania, please post to the comments thread associated with this post. (Apologies for my poor translations from the French. Happy to have better translations of these quotes offered in the comments thread.)

  • http://plmonline.blogs.com Neila Charchour Hachicha

    While Maghreb officials still did not make any declarations, here is an english translation of a reaction coming from the unrecognized “Parti Libéral Méditerranéen” http://www.plmonline.org

    ******

    Mauritania: The Dictatorship is dead! Long life to Dictatorship!

    Mauritania just got rid of a dictator and the Mauritanian people already applaud the new one. What else could have happened but a Coup d’Etat! What am I saying? It was only a brush blow or to be more civilized I would say a Palace Coup.

    This kind of situation is far from being a fate; it is the strategy of any dictatorship that wants it to be so. Any leader who takes power by any means apart from a democratic election is or becomes inevitably a dictator since it is necessary for him in the name of stability that he manages to hold silent all those that he illegitimately bypassed.

    However in any dictatorship that by principle refuses all political reforms which would question its choices’s legitimacy , the definitions of citizenry and democracy remain intentionally badly applied and thus very badly understood and included. The is translated by demagogic speeches’s development and multiplies the risks of Coups d’Etat since alternation becomes the single objective of all the frustrated ones.

    As for the people, either by political immaturity or by fear of a civil war they resign vis-à-vis the putschists in order to maintain peace. But we remain very distant from a true lasting peace built around confidence, respect of law and democratic legitimacy.

    Such a situation could never occur in a democracy since in worst cases, people know that they can act through elections and democratic States have all kinds of legal tools allowing the removal of their presidents without having to use force or hit them in the back.

    Most important, dictators in spite of war on Iraq still continue to believe they are invulnerable and essential to their people and to the world’s stability. On the other hand, people continue to await or applaud any alternation without realizing that a simple change is only the beginning of a new dictatorship.

    Apart from some cases, never any change guaranteed democracy or good governance. Only democracy can guarantee an alternation to power since only democracy is able to impose the respect of laws, the legitimacy of its elected officials and at the same time impose the respect of individual liberties.

    However, as long as there won’t be any true democratic reforms in the Moslem world, not only international terrorism will continue by any means, but Coups d’Etat will be increasingly frequent with all the risks of instability they include.

    Indeed, the impact of the images of Saddam Hussein’s capture was very important on peoples’ minds and many want to see their dictators kicked out. But since all legal possibilities are intentionally blocked, only military or police force coup remain the vis-à-vis of dictatorships’ terrorism.

    Knowing that justice will always prevail, the International Community can condemn in vain any takeover by force. In reality it will only be able to adapt to what it allready spread. By being deaf to peoples’ voices, it did confirm and support illegitimate and sometimes even illegal dictators.

    Today, we live in a world in which part of it practices democracy under various forms, whereas the rest of it does not even have yet free access to it. How can we build in this case a globalized peaceful world if democracy does not become a value and a universal right?

    In the name of peace rather than war and in the name of evolution rather than revolutions, I call Moslem dictators and the International Community to avoid us future takeovers by force and thus by building the necessary bridges that will lead us towards a better civilized and serene future.

    Indeed insignificant political reforms that we can observe all over the Moslem world, and in spite of their necessity, still remain unable to secure us from future undemocratic and fake Coups.

    Neila Charchour Hachicha

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