29 September 2008 Mauritania’s armed forces intervened last month to overthrow the elected government because it had allowed the social, economic and security conditions to deteriorate so badly that it threatened the country’s foundations, the General Assembly heard today.
Abderrahim Ould Hadrami, Permanent Representative of Mauritania, delivered a statement to the Assembly’s annual General Debate on behalf of the new Government in which he said the situation inside his country had become so dire that the armed forces had no other option.
“Economically and socially the situation has become disastrous,” Mr. Ould Hadrami said, citing a rise in hunger, disease and misery after Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallah became president in March last year.
“And while the people suffer… the former president, who only visited one city inside Mauritania, the city of Tainatan, in the aftermath of floods that hit the city, made 25 visits abroad, costing the Mauritanian taxpayer a lot of money, without achieving any tangible results in the field of cooperation between Mauritania and its development partners.”
The Permanent Representative said the former president continually obstructed the work of democratic parliamentary institutions, leading to paralysis, and fired senior army and security services officials at the same time.
“This almost led to a confrontation among high officers and created a situation which could have taken the country to a civil war,” he said.
Mr. Ould Hadrami said last month’s coup was supported by two-thirds of parliamentary members, about 90 per cent of the country’s mayors and two-thirds of the recognized political parties, as well as numerous civil society groups.
He said the Higher Council of State was committed to protect democracy, allowing State institutions to continue their regular work and guaranteeing freedom of the press. He added that free and transparent elections will be organized at the earliest possible date.
Following last month’s government overthrow, the Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon both issued statements voiced concern at the situation in Mauritania and called for the former president’s release from detention.
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