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Mauritania

  |  1 Jun 2016

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Supreme Court 17 May ordered release of high-profile human rights activists Biram Dah Abeid and Brahim Bilal Ramdhane who had been jailed for eighteen months, after deciding their offences warranted one year of imprisonment not two as originally sentenced. Abeid 18 May said he wants to run again for president.

Mauritania

  |  2 May 2016

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Appeal court in SW Nouadhibou 21 April upheld death sentence for blogger Mohamed Mkhaitir convicted of apostasy Dec 2014, referred case to Supreme Court which can reduce sentence if it finds defendant repentant. Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders condemned ruling, called on court to repeal sentence. OHCHR 26 April deplored confirmation of sentence.

Mauritania

  |  4 Jan 2016

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Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) 7 Dec released a video of Mauritanian and two Malian nationals allegedly confessing to spying for the French and Mauritanian military; all three executed. Govt 11 Dec called for establishment of courts specifically for slavery cases.

Mauritania

  |  1 Sep 2015

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Authorities 6 Aug reportedly freed Malian Islamist militant and former Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Bouamama from detention despite international arrest warrant. New anti-slavery law adopted early Aug doubling prison terms for offenders.

Mauritania

  |  1 Jul 2015

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CrisisWatch N°143, 1 July 2015: In Mauritania this month, three convicted 17 June of belonging to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL), sentenced to five-to-ten years’ prison. See:

Mauritania

  |  30 Apr 2015

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Court 21 April sentenced suspected al-Qaeda leader Younis al-Mauritani to twenty years’ prison for terrorist activities.

Mauritania

  |  2 Mar 2015

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Govt 5 Feb announced senatorial elections planned for 15 March postponed in order to allow govt and opposition, which currently plans to boycott vote, time to negotiate acceptable timetable and conditions for polls. Hundreds protested 12 Feb calling for release of three anti-slavery activists arrested Nov 2014; activists 23 Feb began hunger strike to protest prison conditions, abuse.

Mauritania

  |  2 Feb 2015

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President Abdel-Aziz early Jan called for dialogue with opposition bloc National Forum for Democracy and Unity (FNDU). FNDU rejected call; govt 22 Jan said ruling party “not against” holding early elections, as requested by opposition.Thousands protested against Charlie Hebdo cartoons 16 Jan; Abdel-Aziz addressed protesters, said cartoon “attack on our religion and on all religious”. Three anti-slavery activists sentenced to two years’ prison 15 Jan; subsequent protests violently dispersed by police.

Mauritania

  |  5 Jan 2015

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Govt ministers, military officials and other representatives 15 Dec met senior NATO officials in Nouakchott to discuss terrorism, illegal trafficking and other regional security issues.

Mauritania

  |  1 Dec 2014

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Nine human rights and anti-slavery activists including Biram Dah Abeid, leader of Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, arrested 11 Nov near Rosso, jailed on charges of inciting violence, violating public order, offending authorities, belonging to unsanctioned organisation.

Mauritania

  |  1 Nov 2014

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Security forces arrested four on the 12 of October for having suspected links to Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL) in town of Zouérate. Government reportedly closed the border with Mali late October to block the spread of Ebola.

Mauritania

  |  1 Sep 2014

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President Mohamed Abdel Aziz sworn-in for second term 2 Aug; 2 members of youth opposition movement Kafana, including leader Jacob Ahmad, arrested by security forces 5 Aug over anti-Aziz graffiti.

Mauritania

  |  1 Aug 2014

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Parliament 2 July passed anti-terrorism law.

Mauritania

  |  1 Jul 2014

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President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz re-elected 21 June with 82% of vote, turnout reportedly 56%; election boycotted by most opposition parties. Runner-up Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid 24 June accused govt of fraud, filed appeal at constitutional council; council 29 June rejected appeal, confirmed Aziz’s victory. Former President Ely Ould Mohamed Vall 17 June urged non-recognition of “farcical” elections.

Mauritania

  |  1 May 2014

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Mauritania: President Abdel Aziz 23 April announced his intention to stand for re-election in the 21 June polls, despite continued boycott by the opposition.

Mauritania

  |  1 Apr 2014

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Opposition parties Rally for Democratic Forces (RFD), Coordination for Democratic Opposition and Islamist party Tawassoul threatened boycott of July presidential elections.

Mauritania

  |  1 Feb 2014

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Malian President IBK visited 12 Jan, signed agreement to boost military cooperation and information sharing in regional fight against terrorist and armed groups.

Mauritania

  |  2 Jan 2014

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Electoral commission 3 Dec announced results of legislative and municipal results held 23 Nov, said ruling party Union for the Republic (UPR) won landslide victory with 53 seats in national assembly; Islamist party Tawassoul came second with 12 seats. Thousands of Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) supporters protested 18 Dec in Nouakchott against “unilateral” elections.

Mauritania

  |  1 Dec 2013

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Legislative elections held 23 Nov with 60% turnout despite boycott by 10 parties belonging to Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD), party of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Union for the Republic, likely winner; formerly banned Islamist party Tawassoul expected to win seats and come in second place.

Mauritania

  |  1 Nov 2013

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Opposition coalition Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) 2 Oct suspended participation in first dialogue with govt in 4 years, but authorities 3 Oct said they will maintain 23 Nov date for legislative elections. 10 of 11 COD parties 4 Oct announced boycott but Islamist party Tawassoul and Union of Forces of Progress (UFP) 5 Oct said they will participate, prompting uncertainty over future of coalition.

Mauritania

  |  1 Oct 2013

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President Ould Abdel Aziz 19 Sept announced cabinet reshuffle, appointed 6 new ministers. UNHCR envoy Athar Sultan-Khan 22 Sept met with PM Laghdaf to discuss plight of Malian refugees in Mauritania. News agency ANI 16 Sept released AQIM video showing 4 Frenchmen abducted in Niger in 2010. 

Mauritania

  |  1 Sep 2013

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Govt 3 Aug scheduled legislative, municipal elections for 12 Oct; opposition movement Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) called move “unilateral provocation”, threatened boycott; National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) 22 Aug postponed polls to 23 Nov. Govt signed military cooperation agreement with Niger. President Abdel Aziz confirmed country will participate in UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

Mauritania

  |  1 Aug 2013

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Security forces 7-9 July arrested at least 22 “Black” Mauritanians and Senegalese following intercommunal clashes in Kaedi; various rights groups called for their release. Islamist Tawassoul party 13 July accused govt of failing to respond adequately, authorities 15 July released 9 detainees.

Mauritania

  |  1 Jun 2013

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Court 13 May sentenced Canadian citizen Aaron Yoon to 10 years’ prison for links with terrorist group responsible for Jan 2013 In Amenas hostage crisis. Court 14 May sentenced gendarme convicted of spying for al-Qaeda to 10 years’ hard labour. Mali Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine spokesman surrendered to authorities 18 May.

Mauritania

  |  1 May 2013

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Following meeting with President Abdel Aziz, French FM 15 April announced Mauritania will contribute troops to UN force in Mali, possibly 1,800 soldiers. National Pact for Development and Democracy, Movement for Refoundation and Democratic Renewal parties 21 April left presidential coalition CPM to join opposition. Chairman of opposition coalition Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) Mohamed Jamil Mansour 5 April said COD rejects any electoral process which is not result of national consensus, reiterated demand that Abdel Aziz cede power. Opposition MPs 23 April established commission to investigate allegations of drug trafficking and illegal business deals involving Abdel Aziz

Mauritania

  |  1 Apr 2013

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President Abdelaziz 4 March said country ready to join UN peacekeeping force in Mali “if situation improves”; Nigerien President Issoufou, Malian interim president Traoré and Moroccan FM Saad Eddine El Othmani visited early month to discuss Mali crisis. AQIM said it executed French hostage captured in 2011. Electoral Commission 28 Feb announced legislative and municipal elections, initially scheduled in 2011, now due Sept-Oct 2013. Initiative for Abolitionist Resurgence 10 March denounced arrests of 9 of its members in Kaedi.

Mauritania

  |  1 Mar 2013

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Court 11 Feb charged 2 suspected AQIM members with planning to fight in Mali. Rights groups issued communiqué expressing concern at spread of extremist teachings. Army 18 Feb began joint military exercise Flintlock-2013, led by AFRICOM and involving 19 other countries including U.S., France, Canada. Opposition Union des Forces de Progrès early-month called for formation of national unity govt as precondition for participation in next elections, and reform of electoral commission.

Mauritania

  |  1 Feb 2013

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President Abdelaziz 14 Jan deployed troops to secure borders with Mali; 15 Jan said Mauritania could intervene if Mali requests support; 22 Jan called for greater unity between Arab countries in fight against terrorism, organised crime. 3 suspected AQIM jihadis fleeing Mali arrested 28 Jan in Chegar.

Mauritania

  |  1 Dec 2012

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President Abdelaziz returned from France following recovery from 14 Oct shooting; Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) 2 Nov called for independent investigation into shooting, 21 Nov held rally in Nouakchott to demand president’s departure; Abdelaziz asked opposition to “be reasonable”.

Mauritania

  |  1 Nov 2012

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President Abdelaziz flew to France for treatment following apparent “friendly fire” incident 13 Oct, sparking speculation over his health; soldier suspected of being responsible 22 Oct gave interview to explain “mistake”.

Mauritania

  |  1 Oct 2012

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Hundreds rallied 14 Sept in Nouakchott to protest anti-Islam film, demanded departure of U.S. ambassador. Govt 5 Sept extradited to Libya former Qadhafi spy chief Abdallah al-Senoussi, wanted by Libya and ICC for crimes against humanity. Govt 10 Sept denounced “barbaric massacre” of 16 Muslim preachers in Mali (see Mali).

Mauritania

  |  1 Sep 2012

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Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) parties 4 Aug rejected all proposed solutions to current political crisis, reiterated demand that President Abdel Aziz step down. President Abdel Aziz 6 Aug said ex-Qadhafi spy chief Abdallah al-Senoussi will not be extradited to Libya until legal proceedings in Mauritania complete, people tired of opposition protests; rights groups, opposition parties including COD condemned speech. Head of Initiative for Abolitionist Resurgence (IRA), Biram Ould Dah, detained since May, 9 Aug requested better medical treatment; dozens of IRA sympathisers 14 Aug held sit-in outside Justice Ministry to demand his liberation.

Mauritania

  |  1 Aug 2012

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Court 3 July sentenced 2 Salafi extremists to 3 years jail for inciting youth to join AQIM camps in N Mali; MUJAO 19 July freed 3 Western hostages in exchange for Salafis held in Nouakchott prison, $2-3 million ransom. Coordination for Democratic Opposition, including Islamist Tawawssul party, 18 July reiterated demand President Abdel Aziz step down. Police 15 July violently dispersed worker strike in copper mine, 1 killed, several injured. Militants of Initiative for Abolitionist Resurgence (IRA) 24 July staged demonstration calling for release of IRA head, Biram Ould Abeid, detained since May for burning Islamic Maliki legal texts condoning slavery.

Mauritania

  |  1 Jul 2012

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Opposition party Coordination for Democratic Opposition 9 June refused to recognise electoral commission (CENI) after presidential decree naming new CENI director. Court 10 June sentenced former human rights commissioner Mohamed Ould Dadde, in prison since 2010, to additional 3 years for embezzlement. Concerns over state of health of head of Initiative for Abolitionist Resurgence Birame Ould Abeid after doctors prevented from visiting him in prison.

Mauritania

  |  1 Jun 2012

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Demonstrations demanding resignation of President Abdel Aziz continued throughout month; opposition rally led by Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) violently dispersed 2 May. April burning of Islamic Maliki legal texts legitimising slavery by Initiative for Abolitionist Resurgence (IRA) head Biram Ould Abeid led thousands to march calling for banning of IRA; govt 24 May announced creation of High Council for Fatwas after several Haratine Imams called on Ulemas to issue fatwa “abolishing slavery”.

Mauritania

  |  1 May 2012

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Thousands demonstrated 29 April following burning of Islamic Maliki legal texts legitimising slavery by head of Initiative for Abolitionist Resurgence (IRA), Biram Ould Abeid; Ould Abeid, 4 followers arrested. Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) leaders 8 April reiterated call for President Abdel Aziz to step down, organised massive demonstrations in Nouakchott 3, 22 April. Authorities 17 April arrested 36 Youth Movement for Mauritania (MJM) activists following clashes with police in Nouakchott. Former third-in-command of al-Qaeda, Mahfouz Ould al-Walid (alias Abu Hafs al-Mauritani) 11 April extradited from Iran.

Mauritania

  |  1 Apr 2012

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Leaders of opposition party Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) 22 March reiterated call for uprising against President Abdel Aziz. 13 March airstrike against suspected al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) convoy near Timbuktu injured 2; follows 10 March release of gendarme abducted 20 Dec; AQIM 21 March said holding German hostage abducted in Nigeria in Jan, demanded exchange with “Muslim woman” held in German prison. Renewed clashes between police, students over closure of Islamic Institute 15 March left several injured. UNHCR 27 March announced end of repatriation program for more than 24,000 Mauritanian refugees displaced since 1989 Mauritania-Senegal conflict.

Mauritania

  |  1 Mar 2012

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At least 32 injured, dozens arrested in student protests throughout Feb over closure of Islamic Institute; 6 freed 27 Feb. Authorities 4 Feb detained leader of Do Not Touch My Nationality movement Wan Abdoul Biran; move condemned by Rights group ANHRI. Further concerns over press freedom following 14 Feb arrest of journalist Dialtabé Samba Diop reporting on student protest. Leaders of Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) 25 Feb called on President Abdel Aziz to relinquish power. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb 20 Feb threatened to kill gendarme abducted 20 Dec near Mali border. Number of refugees from Mali reached 28,000.

Mauritania

  |  1 Feb 2012

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AQIM 13 Jan claimed responsibility for 20 Dec kidnapping of gendarme near Mali border; activists launched campaign demanding his release. Following spate of attacks by Tuareg rebels in Mali 17-18 Jan, ministers from Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Algeria 24 Jan met in Nouakchott to discuss increasing Sahel region violence. Scores of Malian refugees crossed border fleeing 26 Jan clashes (see Mali).

Mauritania

  |  1 Mar 2010

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Over 60 Islamist militants in Nouakchott prison reportedly agreed to renounce violence, extremism 4 Feb after religious dialogue sessions held with scholars since Jan. Security forces said 2 suspected militants arrested near northern town of Zouerat 12 Feb. Suspect in Nov kidnapping of Spaniards reportedly arrested 22 Feb; Mauritania recalled ambassador from Mali 22 Feb to protest Mauritanian militant release in exchange deal for French hostage (see Mali). Army 26 Feb killed 3 armed militants, arrested 18 in remote north east.

Mauritania

  |  1 Feb 2010

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EU Foreign Affairs Council 25 Jan announced decision to normalise relations suspended after Aug 2008 coup, resume full cooperation with Mauritania following restoration of constitutional order. Govt officials, Islamic scholars 18 Jan began religious dialogue program with Islamist militants in Nouakchott central prison. Mauritania elected to AU Peace and Security Council 30 Jan.

Mauritania

  |  4 Jan 2010

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President 2 Dec replaced national gendarmerie head following Nov kidnapping of 3 Spanish aid workers; al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed kidnappings 8 Dec, reportedly demanded ransom, release of several AQIM members. Group also claimed 18 Dec kidnap of 2 Italians near Malian border. Govt 15 Dec introduced anti-terrorism law expanding powers of security services, 30 Dec announced creation of special court for terrorism and state security. Several thousand attended opposition rally in Nouakchott 23 Dec demanding improved security. U.S. 23 Dec upgraded country to group of African nations receiving preferential treatment under African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Mauritania

  |  1 Dec 2009

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4 suspects in Aug bombing of French embassy claimed by al-Qaeda reportedly extradited from Senegal early month. Prosecutor 23 Nov indicted suspect for Sept 2008 Tourine attack which killed 12 soldiers. 3 Spanish aid workers kidnapped on Nouakchott-Nouadhibou road 29 Nov. 3 journalists from Al Jazeera channel detained 7-8 Nov. Ruling UPR party won most seats in partial senate elections 8 Nov.

Mauritania

  |  1 Nov 2009

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President Abdelaziz visited France 26-28 Oct as relations normalised following July elections, return to democratic rule. Officials from both countries held security meetings 5 Oct. French army chief visited Mauritania 11-13 Oct; joint exercise with French military held in north 25 Oct. EU evaluation mission 6-7 Oct recognised restoration of constitutional order following elections. 6 of 7 al-Qaeda suspects arrested late Sept in remote north released 14 Oct.

Mauritania

  |  1 Oct 2009

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International Contact Group on Mauritania 13 Sept called for international assistance to Mauritania, after praising steps taken to implement Dakar Agreement, including July elections. IMF visiting delegation 17 Sept announced ready to negotiate new assistance programme, suspended following Aug 2008 coup. NATO 25 Sept announced resumption of full cooperation with Mauritania in Mediterranean Dialogue security forum, citing political progress. World Bank 29 Sept resumed relations with Mauritania after one-year suspension, also citing improved governance. Military source 28 Sept reported arrest of 7 alleged al-Qaeda militants in remote north east.  

Mauritania

  |  1 Sep 2009

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Former junta leader Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz sworn in as president 5 Aug following July election victory. 8 Aug suicide bombing outside French embassy injured 3; al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility 18 Aug. 3 suspects in June killing of U.S. aid worker claimed by AQIM on trial 4 Aug.

 

Mauritania

  |  1 Aug 2009

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Ex-junta leader Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz declared victor with 52% of vote in 18 July presidential election aimed at restoring democracy after 2008 coup. Leading opposition candidates alleged fraud, appealed to Constitutional Council 21 July; council approved results 23 July, but head of election commission resigned, citing doubts. International monitors including AU, Arab League, OIC also endorsed elections 20 July. Security forces arrested 4 suspects in June murder of U.S. aid worker claimed by al-Qaeda 17, 24, 25 July; 22 July reported arrest of 2 alleged al-Qaeda militants planning attacks on national mining company.

Mauritania

  |  1 Jul 2009

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Military junta and political parties 2 June agreed to postpone presidential election to 18 July, after opposition parties threatened to boycott original 6 June date. Agreement reached with facilitation of Senegalese President Wade, includes transitional interim administration with posts shared by junta nominees and opposition. Ousted president Abdallahi formally resigned 26 June. Deal welcomed by international observers; AU, UN and EU said ready to assist with July poll. Opposition figures declared candidacy in days following agreement. AU 1 July lifted sanctions against Mauritania. U.S. aid worker shot dead in Nouakchott 23 June by 2 unidentified gunmen in suspected kidnapping attempt; al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility 25 June.

Mauritania

  |  1 Jun 2009

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Campaigning began in controversial presidential election 20 May as opposition boycott and Senegalese-led mediation efforts continued. Thousands protested against elections in Nouakchott 18 May. Ex-junta leader, now candidate, Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz 22 May denounced opposition leaders as “blocking democracy”. Senegalese President Wade 14 May and FM Gadio 19-22 May met govt, opposition leaders, AU, UN, Western diplomats in Nouakchott to discuss proposals reportedly including postponing election, establishment of transitional govt, consensual electoral commission; further negotiations held Dakar 28-30 May failed to reach deal.

Mauritania

  |  1 May 2009

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Head of ruling military council Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz resigned presidency and military commission 15 Apr to run for president in June elections. No candidates registered from main opposition parties maintaining election boycott. Anti-junta demonstrations in capital dispersed by police 2, 19, 29 Apr. EU announced 2-yr suspension of aid 6 Apr.

  • “Mauritania’s military ruler steps down to run for president”, VOA, 16 Apr. 2009.
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