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In a victory for diplomacy and African-led efforts to restore democratic order, Mauritania's military rulers and opposition leaders have agreed to end the political crisis that has isolated the West African nation since a coup last August.
The agreement, hammered out in talks sponsored by the Senegalese government and the African Union, sets Mauritania on a return to constitutional order through free and fair elections next month. Hopefully, the agreement will also serve as an example for other African nations such as Madagascar where political infighting has upended democratic rule.
Under the agreement struck in Senegal, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the junta leader who with other top military officers drove President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi from power, suspended his campaign for election as president in an election that had been set for June 6.
The vote is now due to take place July 18, and opposition parties that had protested the vote are now expected to take part. Also declaring his candidacy was Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, leader of the nation's former transitional government that in 2007 gave up power to civilian rule after the nation's first democratic elections. The deal also envisions formation of a unity government.
The United States applauds the Mauritanian parties for reaching such consensus to resolve the current political crisis. The accord also represents a laudable success for the African Union and the Mauritanian people. The U.S. will actively support all parties to the agreement, including efforts to ensure that next month's elections are organized and held in a free, fair and credible manner.