Friday, March 13, 2009

Mauritania: Libyan leader Gadhafi accused of hindering peace talks

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi left Mauritania on Thursday after failing to bring the political crisis there any closer to a resolution. Mauritanian political leaders have accused Mr. Gadhafi of siding with the general who orchestrated last year's coup.

The head of a coalition of Mauritanian political parties opposing the military leaders who seized power last year has said that talks toward the resolution of the country's political crisis have ended unsuccessfully.

Abdel Koudousse Ould Abdeidna, leader of the National Front for Democracy Defense, said mediation had failed, and accused Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gadhafi of favoring coup leader General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

"They failed during mediation because obviously they cannot separate themselves from the general. And I am surprised to see a general listening to orders of a colonel. This is a surprise," he said.

The Front for Democracy Defense, or FNDD, is one of three principal parties involved in negotiating an end to the crisis, along with the military government and a third political party that formed the main opposition group before the coup.

The FNDD has opposed the coup since it took place in August, and is demanding a return to democracy and constitutional order. Members of the coalition walked out of the negotiations soon after they began on Wednesday, citing what they called Mr. Gadhafi's lack of respect for the democratic principles they espouse.

"He said for him democracy and coup d'etatwere equal," said Abdel Koudousse Ould Abdeidna. "We believe that in order to avoid coup d'etat, we need to have fair elections, but not only fair election - we had fair elections - and then we need democracy. This is why we have been fighting. So for us, it is extremely important that people understand that it is the population who is asking for democracy and not the West that's imposing democracy upon the population," he said.

Abdeidna said it was disappointing to hear what he called the anti-democratic principles of the mediator sent by the African Union, but that he was not surprised given that Mr. Gadhafi is, in Abdeidna's words, "a man of coups himself."

"We don't understand how come a mediator who was supposed to defend the cause of democracy will help us to embrace something we've been fighting for nine months, thinking that we were willing or keen to accept a token of gratitude from the general," he said.

The African Union sent Moammar Gadhafi, who currently holds the rotating head of the pan-African body, to mediate the crisis, hoping he could find a solution acceptable to Mauritanian stakeholders and the international community.

But Abdeidna says a resolution in Mauritania is less likely than ever.

"We believe that the African Union and the international community should help Mauritania get rid of the general, in a very peaceful way, by pursuing what the international community has decided to do. Other than that I don't see any solution in the near future," he said.

The African Union has imposed sanctions and travel restrictions on the government of General Aziz, and the European Union is threatening to do the same if democracy is not restored.

Published with the permission of Voice of America
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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