Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz who led the coup against Mauritanian President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdellahi has accused the latter of suspending the state’s democratic institutions and trying to paralyze the military establishment. He said in his first interview which Asharq Al-Awsat conducted with him by telephone from Cairo that he would not release Ould Abdellahi at present for security reasons and also stressed that no specific dates could be given for new presidential election. He said the former president is well and the new authority would look into his dossier after organizing the internal situations and pointed out that his regime has no problem with foreign recognition of it.
The Following is the full text of the interview:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How would you describe the current situation in Mauritania?
[Ould Abdelaziz] The situation is stable and security is excellent and imposed on all the national soil in the country. There are no problems.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you expecting international recognition?
[Ould Abdelaziz] The countries recognize Mauritania and we do not need new recognition. We are acting through the elected democratic institutions and trying now to complete the work of the democratic institutions whose work was paralyzed by the deposed president.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will Nations recognize your regime since they have already condemned the coup?
[Ould Abdelaziz] We do not need recognition of our regime and have no problem with the recognition. All the problems were caused by the deposed president’s suspension of all the state’s democratic institutions to the point where he tried to paralyze the army establishment. We ask is this conceivable? We see and understand democracy as active work by all the state’s institutions and we are therefore working to activate all the state’s institutions elected by the Mauritanian people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you reply to US and French statements demanding the return of the deposed president, particularly since they have frozen Mauritanian aid?
[Ould Abdelaziz] We do not have problems with the United States and France. The problem that occurred in Mauritania was internal and the coup that was staged was carried out by the deposed president who personally deposed himself through several wrong measures he took recently and hijacked the country away from the democratic gains.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will you release the deposed president like the African Union has demanded?
[Ould Abdelaziz] We will not release the deposed president at present for security reasons. We are now trying to impose calm and move away from escalation. The former president is alive and well and has no problem. There is a new authority and it is the Higher Council of the State and it will look into the president’s dossier after completing organizing the internal situations, which will take some time.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will presidential elections be held soon?
[Ould Abdelaziz] We promised this and it will be done at the proper time.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is, in your view, is the proper time? Will it be after two months, six months as some reports have said?
[Ould Abdelaziz] No specific date can be given at the present time for holding the presidential election because we are working according to the country’s priorities and the people’s needs which the previous president had ignored for long times.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] And what are your main agendas’ priorities?
[Ould Abdelaziz] The priority is for consolidating the situations, reactivating the state’s democratic institutions, fighting corruption, and imposing right and justice.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you asking for specific support from Arab countries?
[Ould Abdelaziz] We ask our Arab brothers and Mauritania’s friends to understand the situation. We will brief them on all our reasons. I am confident that the problem is not abroad but it is an internal Mauritanian affair and the citizens’ problems. We promised this and everything is proceeding well. We will work through the elected parliament and all the democratic institutions elected by the Mauritanian people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What will you discuss with Ambassador Ahmad Ben Helli, the Arab League secretary general’s envoy, who you will meet Saturday morning (today)?
[Ould Abdelaziz] I will brief him on everything that happened and also ask to remain in contact with us to be assured of our protection of democracy, dialogue, and Mauritania’s gains from its compliance with democracy.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will you be undertaking a foreign tour?
[Ould Abdelaziz] I will make contacts with my Arab brothers and Mauritania’s friends among my priorities at the earliest time and after arranging the internal situations which have started to stabilize.