8.05.2005

U.S. Working to Restore Constitutional Government in Mauritania

State Department acting spokesman discusses situation at August 4 briefing

The United States is working to restore constitutional government in Mauritania following a coup August 3 in the oil-rich northwest African country, a State Department spokesman said August 4.

"At this point, we're working with the African Union and with the U.N.," State Department acting spokesman Tom Casey said at the department's daily press briefing in Washington. "We certainly are seeking a restoration to a constitutional government in Mauritania and we'll continue to put our focus there for now."

In a statement the previous day, Casey had condemned "the attempted overthrow of the government of Mauritania" and had called on the country's military and security forces "to avoid violence and the loss of innocent life."

Describing events on August 4, Casey said, "As I understand it, the situation on the ground is still fluid, but the Military Council for Justice and Democracy -- as it is calling itself -- appears to be in control in the capital."

News organizations have reported that on the morning of August 3, military officers, led by national police chief Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, took control of the presidential office, the state radio, the international airport and other major buildings in an apparently bloodless coup.

Mauritanian President Maaouyia Ould Taya was abroad attending the funeral on August 2 of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd. Ould Taya was said to have landed in Niger on August 3, hours after soldiers took control of state radio and television in his home country.

An excerpt of the August 4 State Department briefing that deals with the situation in Mauritania

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

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