On this day August 3, 2005
President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya of Mauritania was overthrown in a military coup and replaced by the Military Council for Justice and Democracy while he was attending the funeral of King Fahd in Saudi Arabia.
A constitutional referendum, parliamentary and presidential elections were scheduled and the coup leaders vowed not to contest any of the elections.
The military government ended with the presidential election on 11 March 2007.
While Ould Taya was out of the country for the funeral of Saudi king Fahd in early August 2005, soldiers seized government buildings and the state media.
The group, which identified itself as the Military Council for Justice and Democracy, announced a coup d’état in a statement run by the state news agency on August 3:
The armed forces and security forces have unanimously decided to put an end to the totalitarian practices of the deposed regime under which our people have suffered much over the last several years.
The new military dictatorship said it would remain in power for a maximum of two years to allow time for democratic institutions to be implemented. The Military Council for Justice and Democracy named Col. Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, a top associate of Ould Taya for many years, as its head.
Ould Taya, on his way back from Fahd’s funeral, landed in Niamey, the capital of Niger. He met Niger’s president Mamadou Tandja before going to a villa in Niamey.
Speaking to Radio France Internationale on August 5, Ould Taya condemned the coup, saying that there had “never been a more senseless coup in Africa” and that it reminded him of the adage “God save me from my friends, I’ll take care of my enemies”.
On August 8, he unsuccessfully attempted to order the armed forces to restore him to power. Broad support for the coup appeared to exist across the country; Ould Taya’s own PRDS party abandoned him a few days after the coup by endorsing the new regime’s transitional plan.
International reaction to Ould Taya’s overthrow was initially strongly hostile, including the suspension of Mauritania from the African Union, but after several days the new rulers were apparently diplomatically successful in winning tacit international acceptance of their transitional regime. The United States in particular at first called for Ould Taya to be restored to power but subsequently backed away from this.
He left Niger for Banjul, Gambia on August 9, 2005. After nearly two weeks there, he and his family flew to Qatar, where they arrived on August 22.
In April 2006, Vall said that Ould Taya could return home as a free citizen, but would not be allowed to take part in the elections that were to mark the end of the transition because, Vall said, his participation could disrupt the transitional process; however, Vall said that he would be able to return to politics after the completion of the transition.
In the March 2007 presidential election, Ould Taya is said to have favored former central bank governor Zeine Ould Zeidane.