Military junta in Mauritania names new head of state

Nouakchott (dpa) - One day after carrying out a coup in the west African coastal state of Mauritania, the ruling military junta named a new head of state, state radio reported Thursday.

The so-called "Military Council for Justice and Democracy'' named longtime police director Ely Ould Mohammed Vall, a 55-year-old colonel, as the new head of state following the coup Wednesday which ousted President Mouawiya Weld Tayeh.

Ould Vall was a close confidante of the toppled president and was made head of the security forces in 1987.

On Wednesday troops loyal to the junta seized control of the presidential palace and the television and radio building in the capital Nouakchott.

Later Wednesday the military council said its members had "unanimously decided to put an end to the repressive rule that our people has suffered from in the past years'' and "abolish the dictatorship rule of Tayeh's regime.''

The military council announced a two-year transition rule to prepare for democratic elections.

President Tayeh, who had travelled to the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday to pay condolences on the death of King Fahd, was due to return to Mauritania Wednesday, but instead landed in Niger following reports of the coup.

Tayeh ruled Mauritania for 21 years after coming to power through a military coup in 1984. He was a staunch ally of the U.S., a factor which made him enemies in the Islamic Republic. Tayeh loyalists foiled two coup attempts in 2004 and a third in 2003.

The mostly desert country on the western edge of the Sahara has around three million inhabitants. dpa hk pmc sc


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