Mauritania’s armed forces have set up a military council to rule the country and put an end to the “totalitarian regime” of President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya, according to a statement on the state news agency.
The statement, signed by a so-called Military Council for Justice and Democracy, said the council would rule the country for two years.
Taya, the ex-president, was out of the country in a trip to Saudi Arabia to attend the funeral of the late Saudi King Fahd.
Earlier in the day members of Mauritania’s presidential guard took over state television and radio and blocked streets in the capital Nouackchott.
The troops, led by Colonel Mohamed Walad Abd al-Aziz, also seized army headquarters.
Dissident soldiers came close to toppling Taya in June 2003 during two days of street fighting in Nouakchott before loyalist forces regained control. The government says it foiled two more coup attempts in 2004.