Friday, February 10, 2012

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (var. Muhammad Abdel-‘Aziz, Ould Abdelaziz, born 20 December 1956) is a Mauritanian politician, currently serving as President of Mauritania. A career soldier and high-ranking officer, he was a leading figure in the August 2005 coup that deposed President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, and in August 2008 he led another coup, that toppled President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. Following the latter coup, Abdel Aziz became President of the High Council of State as part of what was described as a political transition leading to a new election. He resigned from that post in April 2009 in order to stand as a candidate in the July 2009 presidential election, which he won. He was sworn in on 5 August 2009.

Early Life
Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was born in Akjoujt on 20 December 1956. He joined the Royal Military Academy of Meknes, Morocco in 1977 and, after a string of promotions, established the elite BASEP (Presidential Security Battalion). He played a key role in suppressing an attempted coup in June 2003 and a military uprising in August 2004. He received Mauritania's highest military award for his role in stopping the 2004 uprising.

2005 coup leader
A military coup on 3 August 2005, led by Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, Director-General of the Sûreté Nationale, and Colonel Abdel Aziz, who was commander of the Presidential Guard (BASEP), overthrew President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya. Colonel Abdel Aziz was said at the time to be one of the main actors in the actual carrying out of this coup. At the time, Abdel Aziz was described by a Western academic as a leader of a Mauritanian Nasserist group, pan-Arab secular nationalists. Western sources, citing Abdel Aziz's background in coming from a traditionally favored Oulad Bou Sbaa Chorfa clan group, questioned the general's commitment to democracy and reversing the history of ethnic and class inequities in the nation.

Contrary to this, the Mauritanian press credited Abdel Aziz for pushing to reduce military rule from 24 to 19 months and for attempting to limit voter fraud in the coming election.

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