Mauritanian ex-President Abdallahi dies at 82

Mauritania’s former president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, the West African state’s first democratically elected president, died overnight, his family members and the president’s office said Monday.

The politician died at a private clinic in the capital Nouakchott after suffering heart complications, according to his relatives.

Born in 1938, Abdallahi became the first democratically elected head of state in Mauritania in April 2007.

But he only governed for 15 months before Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, a general, deposed him in a military coup.

The army officer was critical of Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi’s perceived inaction against Islamic militants, among other things, and himself ruled as president between 2009 and 2019.

Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi refused to recognise the new government, however, and was imprisoned after the coup.

He was released in 2008 but kept under house arrest in his native village of Lemden, south of the capital, until June 2009. Abdallahi withdrew from politics and kept a low profile after he was freed.

On Monday, Mauritania’s presidency announced three days of mourning after his death, which will include a national ceremony for the ex-president.

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