Unexpected reactions and fumbling

Unexpected news: France is refusing to recognize the junta in Mauritania, and Russia has condemned the coup. The French had initially been quiet and their language suggested support. The Russian condemnation sounds weak, and encourages the putschists to keep their promise for elections in 6 months. While not exactly supportive, it’s tolerant. 

Morocco on the other hand is ecstatic. Le Matin‘s editorial is glowing, describing the Cols. as “nationalists,” “patriots,” and runs along the lines of a wholesale endorsement. They may see the new government as weak and potentially friendly (Abdel Aziz was educated in Morocco during the country’s brief alliance with Morocco), especially on the Western Sahara. There was tension between a Mauritanian delegation and a Moroccan official year over the country’s position on the Sahara (I’ll have to look up the news story; will post in the afternoon). With a new government, the Moroccans might see this as an opportunity to build a more “constructive” relationship. This is one of the only endorsements I’ve seen thus far. It will be interesting to see the Algerian reaction. Most papers, El Khabar, El Watan, Le Soir, etc. are less than enthusiastic, from what I can tell as of last night and this morning. 

The junta is calling itself the High State Council, and it has already had problems holding its composition (the list of its members has already changed, as well as has the name). Since the coup was reactive, the Cols. didn’t expect Sidi’s move against them and the operation was planned literally over night, organizational and conceptional problems are to be expected. The State Council was originally half-civilian-half-military, but this changed before it was actually convened. Abdel Aziz has made himself Head of State and is trying to put out an image of stability and legitimacy. Indeed, there was no coup yesterday; He merely moved to preserve the spirit of 2005. He’s promising the persistence of the rule of law, freedom of the press, etc. and is allowing parliament to operate, as well as the Abdallahi government minus PM el-Waghef. A “United Front” against the coup is being formed with several parties (including Adil (Sidi’s party), UFP, Boulkheir’s party, and the Islamists). The large opposition RFD (Ould Daddah’s party) is supporting the coup (“taking note“). Nobody’s on the same page. If the officers don’t prove they can keep their dealings in order, the French may take more forceful action against them. Things are moving fast.

Update: This was wholly unforeseen. France “totally rejects” the coup, and is demanding that Abdallahi be restored as the country’s “legitimate president.” In case the old government is not restored “rapidly,” the French will take some for of actions. Hypothetically speaking, of course. It seems the French may not be so patient with Abdel Aziz’s butter fingers.

4 thoughts on “Unexpected reactions and fumbling

  1. Exactly. Nobody — except the Le Matin crew — likes the coup much, but most can live with it if all it does is change the president and redistribute a few government portfolios. If Abdelaziz just sits tight and rides out the crisis, he’ll win this. But if the putschists start fumbling, however, they may turn part of the problem; or, alternatively, if the opposition can cause enough ruckus to create a serious opportunity for restoring Sidioca and make the status quo untenable, that will also change things. Frankly, stability and quiet is all everybody outside Mauritania wants from the country.

    France’s position remains something of a mystery to me. The latest declarations were strong, and they were also pretty loud when talking as EU presidents. But I recall a lot of harsh words in 2005 also, even if the AU was basically the only player actually to act, after which everybody quietly made nice again. I don’t know. To be followed closely.

    Btw, I assume the AU must suspend Mauritania again — and it should. Do you know what that takes organizationally, a meeting of some sort?

  2. They probably call some kind of emergency meeting. I think it requires deliberation by the Peace and Security Council. I’m not sure if it goes by vote or if its something they simply enforce in the event of coups. The last time, they suspended Mauritania’s membership “until the restoration of constitutional order.” They cited the Lomé Declaration and Article 30 of the Constitutive Act. See here:

    http://www.issafrica.org/AF/RegOrg/unity_to_union/pdfs/centorg/PSC/2005/36mauritania.pdf

    And here:

    http://www.au2002.gov.za/docs/key_oau/au_act.htm

    Note that the meeting in the document is the day after the coup.

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