Gaddafi arrives in Mauritania, seeks political deal

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Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is in Mauritania in the highest level attempt so far to end the political crisis since a coup in the northwest African Islamic state last August.
An adviser to the Libyan leader, who holds the African Union’s rotating presidency, told Reuters a solution would require the departure of junta leader General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who overthrew Mauritania’s first democratically elected president.
The junta has promised polls but shown no sign of heeding international demands to restore Sidi Mohamed Ould Sheikh Abdallahi to power.
“There is no solution to the problem in Mauritania that does not involve General Abdel Aziz stepping down,” Gaddafi’s adviser Mohamed Shouhimy told Reuters from Tripoli.
The European Union has threatened sanctions against Aziz and his allies, and last month the African Union imposed sanctions.
“The Libyan leader is doing all he can to begin a national political dialogue and this visit can serve as a starting point for setting out the conditions,” said Mohamed Ould Maouloud, of the National Front for the Defence of Democracy, a political alliance campaigning for the restoration of Abdallahi to power.
Abdallahi, released from house arrest in December, travelled to Libya for talks with Gaddafi last week, after which Libyan state media suggested the African Union chairman recognised the ousted president as Mauritania’s head of state.
On his return to Nouakchott, Abdallahi said he was keen to “pursue with the Libyan leader dialogues aimed at arriving at a consensual solution.” 
The previous week, Gaddafi met Abdel Aziz and his supporters have also welcomed the Libyan leader’s involvement.
“We are not worried, this is a good time for the different parties to come together, to find a solution and begin a dialogue,” said Mohamed Ali Cherif, a pro-junta member of parliament.
Gaddafi has accused unnamed “foreign parties” of meddling in Mauritania and stressed that a solution should come from within Africa.
Mauritania, which straddles black and Arab Africa, emerged as an ally of the United States-led war on terror, and last September appealed for international support after al Qaeda beheaded 12 of its soldiers.