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The African Union (AU) chairman, Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo, warned an official delegation from Mauritania that the pan-African body would not recognise the ruling junta in that country, an official statement said.
ABUJA - The African Union (AU) chairman, Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo, warned an official delegation from Mauritania that the pan-African body would not recognise the ruling junta in that country, an official statement said.
"Tell your leader that I have received you and that there are certain things we will put on the table. We have condemned the unconstitutional change in power in your country. That is the stand of the AU and Nigeria," Obasanjo said.
"It does not matter how popular your government is. It is unconstitutional and we condemn it," he said to the delegation, led by Sidi Mohamed Ould Sidina, the minister of fisheries and marine economy.
The AU chairman said the AU would insist on the maintenance of law, order, security and respect for fundamental human rights in Mauritania while the junta works out and implements a programme for a quick return to democratic governance, the statement added.
Earlier, Sidina told Obasanjo that the junta had been forced to seize power because the ousted regime had made it impossible to achieve a peaceful change in government in Mauritania.
He said the coup d'etat was carried out with the blessing and support of the people of Mauritania, the statement said.
He gave Obasanjo what he said was documentary evidence of the consensus of civil society in Mauritania and the country's political parties, including that of the ousted head of state, Maaouiya Ould Taya.
An official statement by the Nigerian presidency last August 5 said that Obasanjo had commenced consultations with other African leaders "with a view to achieving a concerted response to the coup" in Mauritania.
The AU Peace and Security Council on August 4 suspended Mauritania's membership of the AU, a day after Ould Taya was ousted in a bloodless coup while attending Saudi King Fahd's funeral in Riyadh.
The coup was formally condemned by most international organisations, but foreign officials who have since met the new rulers have come away impressed by the junta's promises to support human rights, hold a referendum on a new constitution and stage an election within two years.
In yesterday's statement, the Nigerian government said that it "unequivocally condemns" the coup as "a gross violation of the principles and tenets of the AU Constitutive Act", which forbids the violent overthrow of legitimately constituted governments.
On August 10 the head of an AU mission to Mauritania, Nigerian Foreign Minister Oluyemi Adeniji, said, "We are reassured because there is a consensus on the need for change."
He said after talks with junta head Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, political party leaders, businessmen and representatives of civil society, "We think it will be much easier to steer the process for returning the country to democracy."
The Nigerian minister praised the peaceful atmosphere in Mauritania and the unanimous approval of the coup.
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