Mauritanians report on today's coup

The blog of the Parti Mauritanien pour la Défense de l'Environnement Les Verts (Mauritanian Party for the Defense of the Environment – The Green Party) is celebrating the coup against Mauritanian president Ould Sid Ahmed Taya, offering an article titled Démonstrations de joie dans les rues de Nouakchott” (Demonstrations of Joy in the Streets of Nouakchott). PMDE may have been the first blog to break the news, announcing at 12:21 local time, “Coup d'Etat de la garde présidentielle en Mauritanie, des tirs à l'arme lourde entendus à Nouakchott”. (Coup d'Etat by the presidential guard in Mauritania, shots from heavy weapons heard in Nouakchott.)

Online news service reported a “tentative coup” at 7:16, a “confused situation in Noukchott” at 11:24 and a definitive report of a coup at 11:38, quoting Agence France Press. Mauritanie-Web reported later today that the Presidential Guards had taken control of radio and TV stations, ministry buildings, army facilities, and blocked access to the city. Their reporter briefly spoke to the head of the presidential guard:

Interrogé sur ce qui se passe, Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz, chef de la garde présidentielle, s'est contenté de répondre: “A vous de voir ce qu'il y a”.

(Asked what had happened, Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz, chief of the Presidential Guard, was content to respond, “You can see what's going on.”)

Summarizing the events of the day, Mauritanie-web offers the observation “Trois tentatives de coup d'Etat depuis juin 2003, la 4è a réussi” (Three attempted coups since June 2003, the fourth one succeeds.)

OULD, a new blog focused on events in Mauritania (unclear whether the author is inside or outside the country), offered speculation earlier today that the coup leader would be Colonel Ould Abdel Aziz. Posting on a message board, bould echoes OULD's speculation, listing the names of “les putschistes”:

Je vous livre les noms des principaux putschistes:
Colonnel Mohamed ould Abdel Aziz (Basep) garde présidentielle Wilaya inchiri tribu awlad Besbai
Colonnel Ely ould Mohamed Vall (Directeur de la police) et cousin de ould Abdel Aziz Wilaya inchiri tribu awlad Besbai
Colonnel Ould Mohamed Znagui 6ème région militaire Wilaya inchiri tribu awlad Lab
Colonnel Ould Gazwani Blindé (tagant assaba) tribu Ideiboussat
Colonnel Chef d'état major nationale Adjoint.
un communique sera li à la radio peut être qu'ils attendent de convaincre les autres chefs qu'ils ont mis au arrêts (Ould Riha,El Arbi,ould Eyih)

There's an extensive conversation taking place regarding the coup in the ForumDiaspora Yahoo! Group. One post appears to be a communique from organizers of the coup. Signed by “Les Justiciers du Désert” (Dispensers of Justice in the Desert) it states, in part:

Ce jour 3/08/05 doit rester à jamais immortalisé dans notre mémoire.En effet des membres de nos vaillantes Forces Armées ont décidé de mettre fin au calvaire de notre Valeureux Peuple,qui souffre depuis plus de vingt ans sous le joug d'un régime raciste,ségrégationniste,esclavagiste et corrompu

(The date of August 8th must be forever immortalized in out memory. In effect, the members of our valiant armed forces decided to put an end to the martyrdom of our valorous people who have suffered for more than twenty years under the yoke of a racist, segregationist, enslaving and corrupt regime.)

Mohamed Ali Ould Veten, writing in the same forum, observes that while the African Union has condemned the coup, there's been silence from the Maghreb on the subject. He speculates that Taya's government had been too friendly with the United States – and indirectly, with Israel – and that few in the region will shed tears over his departure.

Alioune Ly, also writing in the ForumDiaspora group, condemns the coup and expresses his ongoing support for Taya:

Dans ces instants où tous les opportunistes se rassemblent et pretent allegence, je tiens à asummer pleinement devant Dieu et les hommes mon soutien à Maao uya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya aujourd'hui encore plus qu'hier. Cet homme patriote, republicain et visionnaire restera à jamais comme celui qui a tenté contre vents et marées de sortir la Mauritanie des tenebres et cela malgré l'opposition des extremistes islamo-esclavagistes qui viennent de prendre le pouvoir.

(At the moment when all the opportunists assemble and pretend alliegance, I pledge before God and man my support for Maao uya Ould Sid’ Ahmed Taya today even more than yesterday. This patriotic man, republican and visionary will stand forever against the winds and the tides of those who want to lead Mauritania into darkness, in spite of the opposition of the islamo-slave extremists who have just seized power.)

We're looking hard for first-hand accounts of the events in Nouakchott, and we could use the help of fluent French speakers in translating posts from Mauritanian blogs and discussion groups – if you're interested in helping us understand what's going on in Mauritania, please post to the comments thread associated with this post. (Apologies for my poor translations from the French. Happy to have better translations of these quotes offered in the comments thread.)

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