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Mauritania authorities release arrested ex-president

[JURIST] The deposed president of Mauritania [CIA factbook profile; JURIST news archive] Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi [BBC profile] was freed from house arrest Sunday, according to Mauritanian officials. Abdallahi was picked up by military forces [AP report] early Sunday at his home in Lemden and was taken to the capital Nouakchott where he was released. Abdallahi had been under house arrest since a military coup [JURIST report] in August. The release comes after the African Union, the European Union, and the US exerted pressure [VOA report] on the ruling military junta to restore the deposed president to his former position.

In August, a military group staged a coup in Mauritania, detaining Abdallahi and Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waqef [AP report]. The coup's leader, Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, previously 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. In September, the Mauritanian Parliament elected [JURIST report] eight of its members to a High Court set to try Abdallahi on corruption charges. The coup overturned the first democratically elected government in the country in more than 20 years.

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