It’s somewhat of a truism that leaders of an armed coup will attempt to justify their takeover by painting it as urgently necessary for their country’s welfare and overwhelmingly supported by the local population. In his turn speaking in front of the General Assembly, the UN ambassador from Mauritania, whose military toppled the country’s democratically elected president in early August, made no exception to this formula:

In view of the political impasse, the armed forces and the security forces, conscious of the serious dangers to the country, intervened in order to correct the deviations and pressure national unity and the other gains of the country, and its prospects of development and progress.

This change has engaged the support of two thirds of members of parliament and about 90% of mayors and two thirds of the recognized political parties in addition to other organizations of the civil society including cultural and professional societies and unprecedented popular marches.

I don’t know where the ambassador is getting his statistics, but independent news outlets have reported that the junta is “facing criticism at home and abroad,” even if the putsch “garnered some support in Mauritania’s political establishment.” Some of the “popular marches,” of course, were actually protests against the new regime. The Security Council has condemned the coup, as have the United States, France, the World Bank, and both the European Union and African Union. Also apparently opposed to the coup is al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — the very terrorist organization that, ironically, the junta claimed that it would be better than its predecessor at combating.

Oh, and also like many putschists before them, the Mauritanian coup leaders have assured that free elections are coming “in the near future.”

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