Secretary-General urges Mauritanian parties to restore constitutional order

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on parties in Mauritania to forge a consensus on how to return the country, which was rocked by a coup d’état last August, to constitutional order, including setting a date for presidential elections.

Internationally-mediated negotiations are currently underway in Dakar, Senegal, and Ban “believes time is of the essence for reaching an agreement,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

Mauritanian President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallah, who was elected after multi-party democratic elections in 2007, was overthrown by the country`s military in a move that was widely condemned, including by the Secretary-General and the United Nations Security Council, the UN News Service adds.

Ban also called on the Mauritanian parties to “cooperate urgently” with the African Union (AU) Facilitation, the UN and the International Contact Group.

Reuters meanwhile reports Mauritania‘s presidential election has been delayed until July 18

Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio made the announcement yesterday after several days of meetings between the political parties and Mauritania‘s military junta.

The election, the first since a coup in the iron ore-producing state last August, was due to take place Saturday but opposition parties had said they would boycott the poll in protest against the military government’s election timetable.

An interim administration will take over from the ruling junta until polls are held.

“The formation of a transitional government will take place on June 6,” Gadio said.

Ministerial positions in the interim government will be shared between Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s military junta and the opposition coalition, the National Front for the Defence of Democracy (FNDD).

“The transitional government will be composed of 26 ministers, 13 from the Aziz camp and 13 from the opposition,” Ahmed Ould Daddah, president of Mauritanian opposition party the Assembly of Democratic Forces (RFD) and a prominent member of the FNDD, told journalists in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott.

Abdel Aziz will appoint a prime minister, while the opposition will pick the interior and finance ministers.

Abdel Aziz, a presidential guardsman at the time, overthrew the first freely elected leader of the desert state in a bloodless coup which provoked international condemnation.

Mauritania straddles black and Arab Africa and is an ally of the West in its fight against al Qaeda.

Pic: Mauretania’s captal, Nouakchott