Lo Gormo: “Mandate for Mauritania gov & parliament expired and clearly illegal”

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Mauritania's Constitutional Crisis and Illegitimate Government

Conference, 3 March 2012: Mauritania's Constitutional Crisis and Illegitimate Government

A seminar organised by the “February 25th Movement” took place on Saturday evening, March 3, 2012, at the Atlantic Hotel, Nouakchott. The event was held under the banner “Illegal revision of the constitution and crisis of state institutions.”

The gathering was attended by many well-known activists, academics and political figures, including some from the opposition coalition “COD”, Trade Union organisers, and representatives from the anti-discrimination activist movement “Touche pas à ma nationalité”, among others. There were also several members of the media present.

After welcoming remarks and an introduction to the February 25th Movement from Mohamed Abdou, the session began with a presentation from an expert in constitutional law, Professor Lo Gourmo, who described the situation of the country since President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz gained power from a legal and constitutional standpoint.

Prof Gourmo explained that, beginning with postponement of election for one third of the senate in April 2011, through to the indefinite deferment of the municipal and legislative elections in November 2011, every office has been subjected to a form of political attrition with regard to its authority; an almost unprecedented situation. These offices are elected under rule of law, some of which are defined in the constitution, others in various statutes, but in any event they are clearly defined, and there should be no opportunity for misunderstanding or abuse.

The only member of the administration who remains unscathed by this plague of extinction through the expiry of their mandates is the president himself, the professor noted.

The professor also explained that the chilling effect of this phenomenon was exacerbated by the incumbent government organizing a dialogue between the majority and part of the opposition, which was in fact nothing more than a confidence trick employed to legitimize the postponement of municipal and legislative elections.

The law is clear: in the November of the fifth year following an election, the parliamentary mandate expires. What this government has done, is manufacture a crisis in which that critical date has passed, and then tried to make amendments to the constitution to impose validity retrospectively. But no act of the government can be legally valid, because it has already lost its legitimacy.

Professor Gormo concluded, “The government and parliament are outside their mandate and clearly illegal.”

In addition, on the sidelines of the conference, the February 25 Movement distributed a statement in which they denounced the illegal process of revising the constitution and noted that “the regime has persisted, since the coup of August 6, 2008, in violating the constitution and acted with complete disregard for legality, which has led to the current attempt to begin an illegal procedure for amending certain provisions of the constitution under false pretences.” Additionally, the statement warns of the “danger of such a procedure, whose real purpose is simply to strengthen the dictatorial regime.” It further states that “the country is in an unconstitutional limbo under a parliament whose term has expired, and a government whose legitimacy no longer exists.”

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