Deposed Mauritanian president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi is released

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.

Mauritania's President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi has been freed "without conditions" from house arrest by the military junta on Sunday.

Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi (Arabic: سيدي محمد ولد الشيخ عبد الله) is a Mauritanian politician who served in the government during the 1970s, and after a long period of absence from politics he won the March 2007 presidential election, taking office on 19 April 2007. He was deposed in a military coup d'etat on August 6, 2008.

He was removed from Lemden to his soldiers guarded private residence in Nouakchott (Arabic: نواكشوط or انواكشوط), the Capital and by far the largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahara. The city is the administrative and economic centre of Mauritania.

Sidi's release is a result of protracted and intense international pressure on the ruling military High Council of State headed by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, to restore constitutional rule to the nation. France and the US had canceled their aid, while the African Union has also suspended the country due to the 6 August coup d'état. But the leaders still refused to reinstate Sidi, amid the demands of the EU, the United States and other major donors.

Aerial view of Nouakchott.

Reuters has reported that "the EU says it will avoid sanctions that would hurt Mauritania's 3 million people, and continues to pay Nouakchott over $100 million a year for fishing rights, underpinning the state budget." Further, the United States on Friday announced it would cut trade benefits for Mauritania as of January 1.

It is expected that Sidi will be allowed to participate in a "national consultation meeting" on December 27. But in an interview by the French newspaper Le Monde, he said that "participating in the December 27 talks would be to legitimise the coup d'état".


  Learn more about Mauritania on Wikipedia.