Nouakchott - The head of the junta that has led Mauritania since an August coup announced his resignation late on Wednesday so that he can stand in a June 6 presidential election.
General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said on state radio and television that he was stepping down as leader of the junta and head of state "in conformity with the law."
The general, who ousted the west African country's first democratically elected leader Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi on August 6, had to resign from power and from the army by April 22 to become a presidential candidate.
He said he was standing in the "sincere wish to build a new Mauritania based on justice, equality and liberty."
A coalition of parties opposed to last year's coup rejected Monday the military junta's planned elections as a farce aimed at legitimising army rule.
"This is a vast comedy," Mohamed Ould Moloud from the National Front for the Defence of Democracy (FNDD) told AFP.
"It's a false resignation, a pretend resignation that the general is doing to trick public opinion and have people accept the putsch," Ould Moloud added.
At present, most of the opposition to the junta and its government plan to boycott the vote.
After deposing Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, the general formed a state council of 11 military officials.
Mauritania's government has already announced the creation of a new electoral commission to organise and monitor the election. - AFP