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Condemn This Illegal Act!

Aug 7, 2008, 5:54 AM

We feel for the population in our neighbouring country Mauritania who have once again been plunged into a state of political uncertainty by the illegal seizure of power from the democratically elected government there.

Troops in Mauritania have overthrown the country's first freely-elected leader and say they have formed a state council to rule the country.

President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi was held after he tried to dismiss the military's top commanders.

Troops were out on the streets of the capital, Nouakchott, where tear gas was fired at about 50 protesters.

The leaders of all free nations who prize democracy and the right of the people to select their own leaders should roundly condemn this. Yet again in West Africa we are witnessing an illegal coup. When will the people be free of this menace? From the earliest reports reaching us and cited above this appears to have been carried out by a group of disgruntled military personnel who did not wish to lose their jobs. This is outrageous. As members of the military they should take their medicine and not simply revolt against their democratically elected leaders simply because they are not pleased with any given situation. We call on President Jammeh to remember the message that graced our billboards when the President of Mauritania visited The Gambia recently. Under pictures both presidents all over the Greater Banjul Area was a phrase invoking strength in unity. The Gambian government must show an example of this unity now and condemn this outrage so as to hopefully strengthen the position of the deposed politician.

The African Union have risen to the task and condemned the coup, demanded a return to constitutional government and said it was sending an envoy to Nouakchott immediately.

The governments of South Africa and Nigeria - both major players in the African Union - also criticised the military takeover.

The US State Department and the European Commission also decried the coup, with the commission warning it would suspend aid to Mauritania.

We must add our voice to this chorus of disapproval and support the population of this neighbouring nation who have so consistently suffered repeated coups in their nation. This kind of illegal seizure of power has no place in a democratic Africa.