Not even a year and a half since he came into power, the first ever democratically elected president since Mauritania's independence in 1960 was ousted in a coup on Wednesday. Our Observer in Nouakchott tells us about her experiences of the day.

Not one drop of blood was shed when the former leader of the presidential guard arrested the Mauritanian head of state, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. Though considered a "model of democracy" by a majority of Mauritanians, the ousted president appears to have been unsuccessful in his attempts to stabilise the country. The junta that overturned him said yesterday that a "free and fair" election will be held "as soon as possible".

The scene in the capital

A market place after news of the coup.


The streets today.

Photos from Isabel.

"In Nouakchott, life goes on as normal"

Isabel Fiadeiro is a Portuguese artist and blogger living in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott. Her blog.

I've been living in Mauritania since 2004 and I think this is the third coup d'état I've seen so far [in fact, it's the second since that of 2005]. In the main market place, Marché Capital, where most demonstrations and gatherings take place, it was completely calm yesterday. There weren't even any police officers.

I don't feel stressed and continue to go on as if nothing happened. Anyway, for us expats, we don't feel like we have much to do with the politics here; we're quite isolated from all that. I personally have never seen any violence and the people I talk to neither. The only thing that would make you realise something happened yesterday, is the beeping of horns in the street. And that the TV and radio went down for a few hours after the coup. They haven't even closed the borders. Some of my friends were on their way to Dakar by road, and they didn't have any problems leaving. In Nouakchott, life goes on as normal."