A Mauritanian member of parliament who has been held behind bars for five months has been set free, according to official Mauritanian sources in the capital, Nouakchott, and rights defenders.
The anti-slavery activist, MP Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, was released on New Year Eve after five months in detention.
In his first interviewed out of prison, he said the government is afraid of his party and the work he is doing to stop modern day slavery in Mauritania.
His political party and NGO have been banned, preventing the political party and Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid to run for presidential elections planned for next September.
Despite his imprisonment, he maintains his seat in parliament which was won in 2008.
He was arrested after a journalist deposited a complaint against him. The complaint is seen by anti-slavery campaigners as masking action by the government which does not agree that slavery persists in Mauritania and that the country is buried in racism targeting Mauritanians of black African descent.
Observers believe that the release, which really only comes after the MP had served the six-months prison sentence he was given last August, should help lower the political tension in the country.
[Anti-slavery banner and Biram hailed for his work. Photos courtesy of Le Monde newspaper]