19 August 2008
Security Council
SC/9428

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5960th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS 6 AUGUST OVERTHROW OF MAURITANIAN GOVERNMENT, DEMANDS


IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF PRESIDENT, RESTORATION OF DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS


Mauritania Says Country Has Not Turned Its Back on Democracy;

‘Corrective Change’ No Coup d’Etat; State Institutions Functioning Normally


The Security Council today condemned the Mauritanian military’s overthrow on 6 August of the democratically elected Government of Mauritania and the State Council’s move to seize the powers of the presidency, and demanded the immediate release of President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdellahi and the immediate restoration of the legitimate, constitutional, democratic institutions.


In a statement read by its President for the month of August, Jan Grauls of Belgium, the Council expressed its opposition to any attempts to change Governments through unconstitutional means, and called for assistance in restoring constitutional order in Mauritania.


The Council welcomed the statements by the African Union, European Union and other members of the international community condemning the coup.  It also recognized the important role played by the African Union, as well as the support of regional and international partners, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, through his Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit.


Addressing the Council at the opening of the meeting, Mauritania’s representative, Abderrahim Ould Hadrami, said that the people of Mauritania had massively supported “the corrective change” of 6 August, which had replaced a weak and unpopular regime.  Elected through transparent and widely accepted elections in 2007, the President had had all the possibilities to carry out his electoral programme, but instead of responding to the aspirations of the people, he had found himself hostage to a political entourage that had diverted him from his supreme mission.  His presidency had been marked by dangerous tendencies and a series of unprecedented terrorist acts.


Describing the conditions that had led to the events of 6 August, he underlined rampant insecurity, fear and disarray in the country; a dire economic and social situation; growing prices; corruption; squandering of resources; and nepotism.  Instead of dealing with the real problems, the former President had entered into conflict with the majority in Parliament and had refused a request for an extraordinary session of Parliament.  To crown those unfounded policies, the former President had fired all the military leaders on 6 August.  Taking into account the prominence of the military institution in the country, the decapitation of the military commandment had been an unwelcome provocation.  The change had been supported by two thirds of Parliament, most of the country’s mayors and popular movements throughout the country.


He emphasized that the situation in Mauritania was stable and calm, adding that the Parliament and State institutions were functioning, and human rights were protected.  The corrective change of 6 August could not be qualified as a coup d’etat, because fundamental liberties had been preserved and the administration was functioning normally.  He assured the Council that Mauritania had not turned its back on democracy.  On the contrary, the hope raised by the democratic transition of 2007 was still alive.  The current stage was just a phase in the development of democracy in Mauritania.  The Council should understand the realities on the ground and carry out an objective evaluation of the events, which were going to take the country out of the impasse that had been leading it to an uncertain future.


The State Council, headed by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, had named the Prime Minister and was planning to hold free and transparent elections, he added.  The international community should help Mauritania to develop its democracy, fight underdevelopment and oppose the powers that had shown their limits.  The Council should reflect the aspirations of the majority of Mauritanians and support the change of 6 August, which had led to stability and prosperity in the country -- in other words -- to peace and security in Mauritania.


The meeting was called to order at 1:56 p.m. and adjourned at 2:10 p.m.


Presidential Statement


“The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2008/30 reads as follows:


“The Security Council condemns the Mauritanian military’s overthrow of the democratically elected Government of Mauritania and welcomes the statements condemning the coup by the African Union, European Union and other members of the international community.


“The Security Council opposes any attempts to change Governments through unconstitutional means.


“The Security Council condemns the actions of the State Council, in particular its move to seize the powers of the presidency.


“The Security Council demands the immediate release of President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdellahi and the restoration of the legitimate, constitutional, democratic institutions immediately.


“The Security Council recognizes the important role played by the African Union as well as the support of regional and international partners, including the United Nations Secretary-General through his Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, and calls on all to assist in restoring constitutional order in Mauritania.


“The Security Council will monitor developments in this situation.”


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For information media • not an official record