Mauritania’s president appoints new government

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Mauritania’s president appointed a new government Sunday, a top official said, after the names of several former ministers appeared in a report on the financial dealings of ex-leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Adama Bocar Soko, the secretary general of Mauritania’s presidency, said at a press conference in the capital Nouakchott that the move would allow all those named in the report “the time they need to prove their innocence.”

The move comes after President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani announced a government reshuffle and replaced his prime minister on Thursday – for reasons that were not disclosed at the time.

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Sunday’s announcement marks the first time Ghazouani’s office has admitted that the reason behind the reshuffle was the controversial report on Aziz.

A nine-member parliamentary committee set up in January was tasked with shedding light on aspects of Aziz’s 2008-19 tenure.

Matters investigated included the handling of oil revenues, the sale of state-owned property in Nouakchott, and the liquidation of a state-owned food company, according to parliamentary officials.

Mauritanian prosecutors said last Wednesday that they had received the committee’s report and would open an inquiry.

Three former ministers and ex-premier Ismail Ould Bedda Ould Cheikh Sidiya were named in the report.

Aziz first came to power in the poor West African state in a military coup in 2008, then won an election in 2009, followed by another in 2014.

Ghazouani, who succeeded Aziz in August 2014, previously served as his chief of staff and defense minister.

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