With President Taya out of the country for the funeral of the Saudi king, a group of army officers staged a bloodless coup in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania on 3 August 2005.

As The Guardian noted, in going to the funeral, His Excellency made the sort of “amateurish mistake… even a novice African leader should have been able to avoid”

The coup leader Col Vall, a one-time ally of the deposed president, had been the head of national security since 1987. He announced the formation of a military council.

The council then said it had acted to end a "totalitarian" regime and promised to hold presidential elections within two years.

Mr Taya himself seized power in 1984 as head of a military junta. After multi-party polls in 1992 he headed civilian governments after elections which the opposition said were fraudulent.

He was re-elected for a third time in 2003, gaining 67% of the first-round vote. Opposition groups said polling had been marred by fraud and intimidation.

Citing the threat of terrorism, his government cracked down on Islamist activists. Critics maintained that the action was aimed at stifling political opposition.

Australia’s republicans will quickly distance themselves from this republic.

So why do people say they are republicans, why do pollsters ask questions about ‘a republic’, and why is there a campaign for a plebiscite about becoming ‘a republic’.

The word ‘republic’, without a detailed model, is absolutely and completely meaningless.

Until next time,
David Flint