August 6, 2008 / 12:11 PM / 9 years ago

CHRONOLOGY-Mauritania gripped by another coup

Aug 7 (Reuters) - Leaders of a military coup in Mauritania promised on Thursday to hold a "free and transparent" presidential election as soon as possible, defying foreign calls to reinstate the country's first freely elected president.

Soldiers ousted President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi on Wednesday after he tried to dismiss military chiefs widely suspected of supporting his opponents.

Here is a chronology of events in Mauritania, Africa's newest oil producer, since independence:

November 1960 - Independence won from France as the Islamic Republic of Mauritania with Moktar Ould Daddah as president.

1964 - Daddah proclaims a one-party state and the next year all parties merge to form the Parti du Peuple Mauritanien.

1966 & 1971 - Daddah is re-elected as president.

1975 - Mauritania is declared an Islamic Socialist Republic.

July 1978 - Daddah is deposed in a bloodless coup by Moustapha Ould Mohamed Salek who assumes absolute power as president in March 1979.

December 1984 - After a number of coup attempts, Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya seizes power and proclaims himself president. Almost two years later, Taya imposes sharia law.

January 1992 - Taya is elected president with 63 percent of the vote under a 1991 constitution permitting multiple political parties but the opposition denounces the victory as fraudulent.

-- Taya is re-elected in 1997 and in 2003 after another coup attempt in June that year.

August 2005 - The army seizes power to end Taya's regime, and says it plans to rule for up to two years.

November 2005 - 17-member junta pledges to hold presidential elections in March 2007.

June 2006 - In a referendum meant to end decades of coup attempts, voters overwhelmingly back constitutional changes ensuring no president can serve for more than a decade.

March 2007 - Former minister Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi wins a presidential run-off poll with 52.85 percent of the vote defeating his rival, opposition figure Ahmed Ould Daddah. Abdallahi was sworn in on April 19.

July 2008 - Abdallahi asks Prime Minister Yahya Ahmed El Waghef to form a new cabinet after the prime minister and his government resign following criticism over the government's response to soaring food prices.

August 6, 2008 - Presidential guardsmen seize Abdallahi in a coup after he sacked several top army officers.

August 7 - An 11-strong junta promises it will work with politicians and civic groups to organise presidential elections.

-- Washington demands Abdallahi be restored to power and, like the European Union, warns international aid could be cut.

Sources: Reuters/Europa Publications.

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