A new prime minister has been named by military leaders who lead last week’s coup in Mauritania, in order to head a transitional government.
The post will be taken by Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf, Mauritania’s former ambassador to the European Union, state media said on Thursday.
Coming from the southwestern region of Hodh Chargui, considered key electorally, Mr Laghdaf is a member of the influential Tajakant tribe.
After ousting Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, the country’s president, in a bloodless coup, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the coup leader, has promised to appoint a government, before holding presidential elections.
Judging by his European diplomatic contacts, Mr Laghdaf may have been appointed in an attempt to lessen international condemnation of the coup, say observers.
‘Political and institutional crisis’
But the EU has said that the bloc would prefer Mauritania to return to the pre-coup situation and have the old government restored.
Saying that the coup was carried out “in the interest of the Mauritanian people”, a majority of Mauritanian politicians from both the senate and the lower house declared their support for the coup on Wednesday.
The members issued a statement that said the coup had been carried out “in the context of an acute political and institutional crisis” brought about by Mr Abdallahi who “only listened to sycophants”.
The world powers have been called on by politicians to support the coup leaders“in their objectives to preserve the stability of the country”.
General Abdel Aziz ousted Mauritania’s first democratically elected president, formed the State Council comprised of 11 military officials to the government and promised to hold elections quickly, though he did not give any dates.
Global food crisis
Earlier this week, the general began consulting political parties about the formation of a transitional government.
As it imports more than 70 per cent of its food needs, Mauritania, a desert country, has been affected by the global food crisis.
In November last year, the northwestern African country faced food riots and the UN World Food Programme warned in March that the country faced a year of record hunger.
Seven people, including four French tourists, have been killed in three attacks from groups linked to al-Qaeda.
Before the coup, the country went through months of political tension and two recent government reshuffles.