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The ruler of Mauritania 1984-2005. Born in 1943, he first served as prime minister under in the military government of Mohammed Khouna Ould Haidalla, from April 1981 to March 1984.

On 12 December 1984 he staged a coup against Ould Haidalla and became head of the "Military Committee for National Salvation", the ruling junta, as well as prime minister. In 1991 a democratic constitution was instituted in preparation for civilian rule. Ould Taya assumed the post of president on 18 April 1992.

He was re-elected with 90% of the vote in December 1997, but the system was strongly biased in favour of the largest party, his PRDS (Democratic and Social Republican Party), and the media are state-owned and gave little time to the opposition. Most opposition candidates boycotted the presidential election.

In 2001 the system has been changed, and it has today been confirmed that he was re-elected president in a much more representative ballot two days ago. Opposition parties took part and made substantial gains.

President Taya survived a violent coup attempt on 8 June 2003, with much fighting for control of the streets of Nouakchott. In recent years he has shifted position away from his pro-Saddam position to become an ally of the United States and to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel. In this entirely Islamic country his reforms are increasingly unpopular, and would have partly provoked the latest coup attempt.

There was a successful coup d'etat against him by the Presidential Guard, in the early hours of 3 August 2005, while Taya was attending the funeral of King Fahd in Saudi Arabia. The new Military Council for Justice and Democracy is headed by Colonel Ely Ould Mohammed Vall, and Taya has taken refuge in Niger.

< Mohammed Khouna Ould Haidalla - Mauritania - Ely Ould Mohammed Vall >

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