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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

MAURITANIA: Former mayor released

ABIDJAN, 21 January 2004 (IRIN) - The Mauritanian authorities on Tuesday granted conditional release to opposition activist Jemil Ould Mansour who was arrested some two weeks ago for breaking out of a Mauritanian jail last year.

Mansour, the former mayor of the Arafat suburb of the capital Nouakchott, was arrested in April 2003 along with some 40 Islamic clerics and political activists whom the regime of President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya accused of anti-state activities. He had been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and critic of Mauritania's relationship with Israel.

According to Mansour's lawyer, Brahim Ould Ebety, Mansour was freed from prison by troops involved in the abortive coup against Taya on 8 June 2003.

After fleeing to neighbouring Senegal and then securing political asylum in Belgium, Mansour unexpectedly returned to Nouakchott on January 8 and was arrested on the tarmac of the airport.

“He was released because of the irregularity of the case against him”, Ebety told IRIN from Nouakchott. Ebety, who also defended former president Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidalla during his trial in December, said his client was accused of anti-state activities and flight from prison.

The Mauritanian government granting a provisional release to 41 detained Islamic leaders and activists in August, a move denounced by Mansour at the time as a political ploy by Taya in the run-up to presidential elections.

Mansour is a member of the Rally of Democratic Forces (RFD) opposition party, led by former IMF official Ahmed Ould Daddah. he publicly supported Haidalla in the 7 November election, which Ould Taya won with 66 percent of the vote.

 

Theme(s): (IRIN) Governance

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