[JURIST] A military group staged a coup in Mauritania [CIA factbook profile] early Wednesday, detaining President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi [BBC profile] and Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waqef [IBT report]. The coup's apparent leader, Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, also backed a 2005 coup [JURIST report] that removed then-President Maaoya Sid'Ahmed Taya [BBC report]. Aziz had previously supported Abdallahi, but the two split after Abdallahi made political concessions to conservative Muslim groups. Aziz will now head a new state council, according to a statement broadcast by a state-run television station. The coup overturns the first democratically elected government in the country in more than 20 years. AP has more.
This is the second coup in the country since 2005. That year, a junta led by Aziz took temporary control of the country while then-president Taya, who had allied with the US in the war on terror and increased law enforcement efforts against extremists [AP report], was out of the country. Taya came to power in a coup two decades prior and survived numerous other attempts [JURIST report] to overthrow his administration.