Former Mauritanian leader arrested in Nouakchott

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz arrested days after he refused to continue reporting to police after being put under house arrest.

LONDON - Mauritania’s former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was arrested on Tuesday  and taken into custody by an anti-corruption  judge, said one of his lawyers.

The move comes days after Ould Abdel Aziz refused to continue reporting to police after being put under house arrest.

On March 12, Ould Abdel Aziz was indicted for corruption, embezllement of public property and money laundering. Last month, he was placed under house arrest in Nouakchott and under judicial control along with 12 other senior officials, including two former prime ministers, during his rule.

The former leader had to report to police three times a week and to seek approval before leaving the Mauritanian capital.

A state prosecutor involved with the investigation in March said cash and assets worth the equivalent of about $115 million had been seized.

The justice accuses Ould Abdel Aziz of the irregular award of 109 public contracts in various sectors, dubious management of the National Fund for Hydrocarbon Revenues and National Industrial and Mining Company and sqaundering of land in Nouakchott, among others.

Ould Abdel Aziz’s lawyers denounced the arrest as a purely political motive.

The former President came to power in a bloodless coup in 2008. He had ruled Mauritania until 2019 with an iron rod, jailing senators who opposed his abolition of the "useless, expensive" upper house after a controversial 2017 referendum in which a majority of 85 percent was officially held to agree with him.