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The general who led a coup in Mauritania last week has refused to rule out standing in elections planned by the country's new military rulers.

In an interview with the BBC, Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz also declined to set a date for elections, which he insisted would be transparent.

Gen Abdelaziz led a coup last Wednesday that overthrew Mauritania's first democratically-elected leader.

The African Union said it would suspend Mauritania following the coup.

No poll date

Gen Abdelaziz told the BBC's James Copnall in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, that he had been forced to act after the deposed president decided to sack the country's four most senior military officers.

He said Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi had been leading the country away from democracy, and the sacking of military chiefs would have led to fighting between military factions.

"We are thinking of organising elections, which we want to be transparent and democratic," Gen Abdelaziz said.

"We are used to respecting our commitments, so for this reason we cannot take the risk of giving a date which might not be respected," he said.

"I can't say now whether I will be a candidate, because it depends on the future. I won't rule it out but I am not saying I will be a candidate either."

On Wednesday, coup leaders took Mr Abdallahi and other senior government officials captive.

Gen Abdelaziz said Mr Abdallahi was being well looked after under house arrest and was in good health.

But he appeared sceptical about the prospects of the ousted president returning to political life, our correspondent says.

Mr Abdallahi was elected in 2007, in the first free and fair poll in more than two decades in the country.

The coup - the latest in a series over the last three decades in Mauritania - has drawn widespread international criticism, and the US has withdrawn all non-humanitarian aid.

The AU has said Mauritania, one of the world's poorest countries, would be suspended at least until a constitutional government was restored.

But Gen Abdelaziz said any international sanctions would not alter his behaviour.

Source: BBC

The general who led a coup in Mauritania last week has refused to rule out standing in elections planned by the country's new military rulers.

In an interview with the BBC, Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz also declined to set a date for elections, which he insisted would be transparent.

Gen Abdelaziz led a coup last Wednesday that overthrew Mauritania's first democratically-elected leader.

The African Union said it would suspend Mauritania following the coup.

No poll date

Gen Abdelaziz told the BBC's James Copnall in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, that he had been forced to act after the deposed president decided to sack the country's four most senior military officers.

He said Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi had been leading the country away from democracy, and the sacking of military chiefs would have led to fighting between military factions.

"We are thinking of organising elections, which we want to be transparent and democratic," Gen Abdelaziz said.

"We are used to respecting our commitments, so for this reason we cannot take the risk of giving a date which might not be respected," he said.

"I can't say now whether I will be a candidate, because it depends on the future. I won't rule it out but I am not saying I will be a candidate either."

On Wednesday, coup leaders took Mr Abdallahi and other senior government officials captive.

Gen Abdelaziz said Mr Abdallahi was being well looked after under house arrest and was in good health.

But he appeared sceptical about the prospects of the ousted president returning to political life, our correspondent says.

Mr Abdallahi was elected in 2007, in the first free and fair poll in more than two decades in the country.

The coup - the latest in a series over the last three decades in Mauritania - has drawn widespread international criticism, and the US has withdrawn all non-humanitarian aid.

The AU has said Mauritania, one of the world's poorest countries, would be suspended at least until a constitutional government was restored.

But Gen Abdelaziz said any international sanctions would not alter his behaviour.

Source: BBC

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