Mauritanian coup leader rejects AU ultimatum

Refuses to reinstate President Abdallahi

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The coup leader who seized power in Mauritania last month rejected Saturday an ultimatum set by the African Union to reinstate President Sidi Ould Sheikh Abdallahi by October 6.

"The position of the African Union is neither constructive, nor positive. It does not serve the greater interests of the Mauritanian people," General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz told reporters in Nouakchott.

Earlier this week, the 53-member AU bloc gave Mauritania the October 6 deadline to "restore constitutional order" to the West African country.

A military junta removed Abdallahi, the country's first democratically-elected president, from power on August 6. The junta has since been under pressure from the A.U., the United Nations and the international community to reinstate him.

The deposed president has been under house arrest since the coup. His prime minister, Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghf, was re-arrested on August 22 and also placed under house arrest.

A statement issued by the presidency of the state council September 1 said a 22-minister government had been formed with effect from the previous day.

A number of Western powers including the U.S. and France have refused to recognize the military government, denouncing it as "illegitimate."