Deposed Mauritanian president freed

The deposed president of Mauritania was set free Sunday after four and a half months under house arrest and immediately began working to retake power from the junta that overthrew him, a spokesman said. Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi was meeting in his home village with staff and supporters and plans to "fight for his legitimate power to be restored," said Kaber Ould Hamoudi, the president's chief of staff. France welcomed Abdallahi's release and called for the junta that rules his northwest African nation to step down. The United States and France, the country's former colonial ruler, canceled aid to Africa's newest oil producer after Aballahi was overthrown by a military coup. The junta had announced under international pressure that they planned to release Abdallahi by Dec. 24.