Mauritanian police on Wednesday broke up a fresh anti-regime protest as hundreds of youths gathered to demand President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz leave power, an AFP journalist witnessed.

The protesters had gathered outside parliament to march to the interior ministry for an unauthorised sit-in, but police fired tear gas to disperse them.

“The police tried to convince the youths to leave, their march was not authorised, but they refused and chose confrontation,” said a police commissioner at the scene.

Angry youths threw stones at the police, set tyres ablaze and blocked traffic, attempting to regroup at various points around the capital without luck.

Local media reported that a dozen protesters had been arrested, including the leader of the youth wing of the Coordination of a Democratic Opposition (COD), a coalition of about 10 political parties.

The COD has accused Abdel Aziz of despotism and mismanagement.

COD lawmaker Moustapha Ould Bedredine said the president had “turned his back” on commitments made in the so-called Dakar accords which led to his election in 2009, a year after he seized power in a coup d’etat.

“Having refused inclusive dialogue stipulated in this agreement and chosen the route of despotism and of a reign without sharing, the only path left to us is removing the regime peacefully, via an agreed transition.”

Supporters of the president such as ruling party lawmaker Sidi Mohamed Ould Maham insist that “only the ballot box and democracy will decide”, accusing the opposition of driving the west African nation into chaos.

Similar protests were held on May 2 and May 9.