Mauritania opposition against involvement in Mali war

NOUAKCHOTT - Mauritania's main opposition coalition has declared its opposition to any participation in the war in neighbouring Mali against Islamic extremists occupying its north.

The Co-ordination of Democratic Opposition (COD), made up of a dozen opposition parties, declared its "opposition to any Mauritanian participation in the war due to the gravity of its consequences" in a statement Wednesday night.

"It is difficult to speculate on the consequences of this war for our country and the region and we have always warned against it," said one of the COD's leaders Ahmed Ould Lafdal, during a party meeting.

The coalition has called for a return to the negotiating table to find a solution to Mali's problems.

In a separate communique the National Rally for Reform and Development (RNRD) an Islamist member of the COD, "firmly condemned the French military intervention in Mali" to drive out the jihadists.

The RNRD also denounced the insurgents' actions, saying they had "brought prejudice to the image of Islam with their model based on intimidation and kidnapping."

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has uptil now excluded his country from participation in any intervention in Mali, while warning his country would respond to any attack.

At the French offensive got underway to prevent Islamists from advancing on Bamako, Mauritania deployed troops to its long border with western Mali to protect its country against Islamists fleeing airstrikes.

However on Tuesday after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande, Abdel Aziz raised the possibility of participating in the operation if he was asked, according to Hollandes entourage.

Abdel Aziz has led an offensive stance against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) which has long been present throughout the Sahel, and has kidnapped foreigners in his country.

In 2010 and 2011 he ordered his army to raid AQIM bases in northern Mali.