WB suspends aid to Mauritania

August 24, 2008

, WASHINGTON, August 24 – The World Bank has suspended $175 million in aid to Mauritania in the wake of a military coup earlier this month, a World Bank spokesman has said.

The suspended payments are undisbursed funds from $413 million committed by the World Bank for projects in Mauritania, Eric Chinje, spokesman for the World Bank\’s Africa Region, told AFP.

The suspension affects some 17 national projects in Mauritania and Mauritania\’s participation in World Bank regional projects, including rural development, health, education and infrastructure such as road building, he explained in a phone interview.

"Each time there\’s political instability there\’s a price to be paid by the country," he said.

He said a World Bank team of about 24 local and international staff had begun an assessment "in the wake of the problems in the country, the toppling of the government.

"We\’re trying to assess the situation on the ground with other donors," among them the United Nations, he said.

The European Commission on Friday called on the military junta which has seized power in Mauritania to release ousted Prime Minister Yahya Ould Ahmed Waghf immediately.

Ould Ahmed Waghf was re-arrested on Thursday while ousted president Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi remains under house arrest following the August 6 coup.

The EU\’s executive arm, in a statement, called for the release of both men and "the return of constitutional order."

The August 6 coup has been almost universally condemned by the international community.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council adopted a non-binding statement condemning the coup and demanding the president\’s immediate release and the immediate "restoration of the legitimate, constitutional, democratic institutions."

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