August 03, 2005


Well, there's been a military coup in Mauritania, and the excuse for it is either the most ironic ever, or an indication that military dictatorship is underrated:

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) - A military junta overthrew Mauritania's U.S.-allied president on Wednesday, saying it would temporarily rule this oil-rich Islamic nation that had looked increasingly to the West as the government raised fears of a growing threat from al-Qaida linked militants.

President Maaoya Sid'Ahmed Taya, who himself seized power in a coup two decades ago, was out of the country when presidential guard troops took control of the national radio and television stations earlier Wednesday, cutting broadcasts and seizing a building housing the army chief of staff headquarters.

Taya, who has allied himself with the United States in the war on terror and cracked down ruthlessly on opponents he accuses of being Islamic extremists, refused comment after arriving Wednesday in nearby Niger from Saudi Arabia, where he attended King Fahd's funeral.

... The group of Mauritanian army officers, which identified itself as the Military Council for Justice and Democracy, announced the coup in a statement to the state-run news agency.

"The armed forces have unanimously decided to put an end to the totalitarian practices of the deposed regime under which our people have suffered much over the last several years,'' the statement said. ...

They say they'll put in a democracy and there were apparently street celebrations. I guess we'll have to wait and see if the military is serious about their claims to be pro-democracy or if this is a case of trading one dictator for a panel of dictators. Our military takeovers in Afghanistan and Iraq aren't going so well, so I'm not sure we really have a lot of stones left to throw.

If they manage to pull it off without indiscriminate killing sprees, which there aren't yet any reports of, good for them.

Posted by natasha at August 3, 2005 02:39 PM | International | Technorati links |