Mohammad Jamil Ould Mansour, head of the Islamic-leaning National Gathering for Reform and Development, maintained his and his party"s opposition and rejection to the military coup in Mauritania . He told Aljazeera.net that their attitude from the beginning has been rejection coups or use of force to reach power.
The following is the text of the interview:
Aljazeera: Why have you opposed this coup?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: We condemned, opposed and rejected this coup for very clear reasons: First: Due our attitude of rejecting military coups or the use of force to reach power. Second: The country has been witnessing a healthy democratic atmosphere. It has been witnessing political competition and every party was free to do whatever he wants as long as it is in line with the constitution and law. Thus, there was no political deadlock. Third: The legislative and executive establishments that have been running the country assumed power after transparent and fair elections. So, we see that this coup is a retreat and distortion to the image and reputation of Mauritania . The world will no longer trust our democracy and our compatriots will never trust our democracy. Therefore, we opposed and rejected this coup.
Aljazeera.net: You along with some opposition parties have cast doubts over the results of the 2007 elections, not technically, but in the sense that there have been interventions of power at that time. You said that the Junta brought the incumbent president. This means that it wasn"t originally established on a true democratic basis. Does this make you feel that it needed a correction?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: At least from our side, we have never said this. It is true that the Union of Democratic Forces Party hinted that powerful figures in the Junta backed the president-elect. Observers said at that time the Junta was divided on itself between supporters to Cid Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdullahi and supporters to Ahmed Ould Dadah. Thus, the Junta contributed to backing both of them. This support made people not doubt results of the elections. However, the question is why has the Junta that backed this president overthrown: is it to bring to power a president, on whom they have no influence. This question needs an answer from those backing the coup.
Aljazeera.net: But don"t you think that the move- firing the top military chiefs- that the ousted president took triggered the coup. It would have caused a civil war and infighting in the military. Does this mean that the coup was justified?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: I think that if the dismissed military chiefs had accepted the deposition and the ones replacing them had taken their posts, nothing of the sort would have happened. If every one had accepted the constitutional decisions, nothing would have happened. Add to this, I am not in a state that allows me to know the background details of the military situation to assess all the matter. Also, any president who faces military and security aides campaigning against him and instigating and meeting MPs in public, he may be- some people say- too patient with them. Thus, he had two options either to resign or to fire them. He chose to fire them. The way through which he fired them shows that he was well aware of their influence.
Aljazeera.net: The Junta leader, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said that he was illegally fired, that this firing was issued at night and that the decree was illegal?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: I think that challenging any legal decree means that we refer to articles of law upon which we base this claim, then we should take legal means to challenge it at competent judicial authorities. To object to detailed measures of appointment through a military coup on the constitution and constitutional establishments is- I think- strange.
Aljazeera.net: You welcomed 2005 coup and you are accused of taking part in previous coups. Don"t you see that it"s some sort of contradictory to welcome it sometimes and oppose it at others?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: First: To set it right, we have never welcomed any coup and have never justified any coup any change in our history. What we literarily said after August 2005 coup was that the reasons for the coup can be understood due to the political tension. Objectively looking at the situation before 2005 coup and the one before 2008 coup, it will never be difficult to strike differences between both situations on the political, legal and security levels. Before August, 3rd, 2008 coup, political parties were dissolved, people were detained any several coup attempt were carried out in the country. This shows that the security situation was not stable. I was personally told by an 2005 coupe leader and an 2008 coup leader that every night they have been expecting a coup. There was a political deadlock before the 2005 coup. So, the Junta faced no problem inside or outside the country because people wanted a peaceful change and they understood and accepted it when it was a military coup. There is no comparison between conditions at that time and nowadays conditions. Add to this, the democratic opposition has never called President Ould Moayiah a President of Republic; it was calling him president of state because it has never recognized the elections that crought him to power. As for the coups which are reportedly linked to us, we say that we have never recognized this method in our political life, whether it is Saleh Ould Hanana"s or any other coup. After the failed coup of Saleh Ould Hanana, he contacted all political powers including us and we were opposing the regime and it wasn"t our responsibility to report it.
Aljazeera.net: President Ould Abdel Aziz sent an implicit threat to your party. He said that your party was licenced in the era of the former president time, that it was allied to it and that he will judge you from your deed. What is your comment on this statement. Do you fear that the licence of your party is licensed?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: When 2005 coup took place, we took the final decision of working in public. Thus, we recognized ourselves and Mauritanian people who supported us in times of ordeal recognized us. We welcomed this recognition and activated it in the administrative and legal sides. And we have relations with the international community. It doesn"t matter whether they unlicensed or license us because we are a product of a long struggle in various circumstances. It is wrong to think that the recognition can be used as a negotiating chip to have an effect on our attitudes. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, I wished that the Junta leader judged us according to the constitution and according to current laws and according to our commitment to these laws. In sum, we are against the coup. Our attitude will not be swayed by threats of banning or outlawing us because the country is already fed up with tensions.
Aljazeera.net: As for the international attitude that- you said- is supporting you, some see also that you left government due to international support?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: I did not say that the international attitude supports us. I said that it is against the coup and that we have relations with the International Community. As for leaving government, I donâ€™t it is due to any foreign effect. We left government due to rows in the ruling majority due to a philosophy that I heard from currently detained president Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. He sees thee are two views to a state: that rule is a load and that rule is a bowl. The ones seeing rule as a heavy load and responsibility seek others to help them bear the burden, and they therefore support expanding majority to include others. As for the bowl view, supporters see that rule a cake which is divided between owners of the bowl. The more the number of those taking part in eating the cake, they less each share gets. What has recently happened was a clear victory to those supporting the bowl view.
Aljazeera.net: What is your comment on the charter issued days ago by the Junta?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: I heard about it but I did not delve into its details. Our view towards it is a part of our attitude towards the coup: rejection and condemnation.
Aljazeera.net: Some say that the Mauritanians are rash and that the international attitude will quickly perish. What are the steps that may help you reach your targets?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: I do not think so. Every thing is crystal clear. The National Front for Defending Democracy will- through peaceful and political means, including rallies, sit-ins and political and media work, and through contacting and benefiting from the international community attitudes- set the scene for realizing the target of restoring legitimacy. Thus, we are currently seeking this target. Some of it has been realized in the peaceful protests and we rely on the patience and perseverance of the front.
Aljazeera.net: There are so many differences in the past and perhaps the present among components of the front. Do you think that this will affect its performance?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: It is true to describe parties constituting the front as differ in attitudes to the extent of contradiction in the past. But I think that this differing parties have closed ranks because the nature of their target requires that they remain unified till it is achieved.
Aljazeera.net: Will you initiate a dialogue with the Junta over any thing other than reinstating former president which is considered a red line?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: I think- within the next few days- alls political strategies related to dealing with the situation will emerge, including meeting and talking with the Junta that held the coup.
Aljazeera.net: In case Ould Cheikh Abdullahi were released, what will be your attitude towards him, will you consider him a president?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: We recognize him as a president while he is president and we will definitely recognize him as a president when he is released and we will hold consultation with him over details and measures.
Aljazeera.net: Do you plan to form a government in this case?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: Forming government is one of the powers of the president. We are against holding coup against the president. We refuse that others hold a coup against him and we definitely refuse to hold such a coup against him as well.
Aljazeera.net: If he formed a government, will you take part in it?
Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour: Let it happen first.