Aziz whitewashes Mauritania issues, it's all about Mali

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The Mauritanian head of state interviewed by Bruno Daroux for RFI, Xavier Lambrechts for TV5 Monde, and Isabelle Mandraud for the newspaper “Le Monde”. Mauritania is at the heart of the Sahelian Sahara, and a has Mali, where the north has been in the hands of Tuareg, Islamists and Jihadists for a few days, as a neighbour. What are the consequences for Mauritania, what military and diplomatic strategies are needed against the destabilization in Mali that threatens all the countries in the region?
Video (without subtitles) and audio are in French
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqbOBSWEh9U]
By Bruno Daroux via rfi.fr
Transcript: 

  1. Coups are “hard knocks” for Mali and Guinea Bissau. They are “the result of [mismanagement in] running the country” or “drug trafficking”.
  2. There should be “support” for countries that are victims of coups and that “deep and permanent solutions” are needed, ie: “global” and not just “institutional” [the return to constitutional order].
  3. The “territories beyond control of the central government [in Mali]” led to “unacceptable situations with terrorism.”
  4. He is “against military intervention but ready to act if necessary …”
  5. He “did not think we should have a republic in northern Mali,” but he is “not against autonomy [Northern Mali] if Malians accept” …
  6. Mauritania hosts unarmed members of MNLA in Nouakchott “as Malians” .
  7. He feels “threatened by AQIM” and “will not negotiate with terrorists who are acting illegally” …
  8. Mauritania does not fight terrorists but “are hunting them down” to remove “danger”. These enemy troops “now have a country [Azawad] and an army”
  9. “Europeans must act, but […] without paying any ransom.”
  10. Mauritania “enjoys good cooperation with France, the United States and even Great Britain […] to support the Mauritanian armed forces […], but that the country must look to itself.”
  11. “Mauritania is not small! The Mauritanian army is not small!”
  12. You can ask to Algeria to “do more” but “Algeria has its own vision” of the situation in northern Mali …
  13. He sees talk of gas or uranium in northern Mali as a contradiction and “we do not see the terrorists” showing any interest in “this stuff”
  14. The hostages are not only European or Algerian, there are thousands uncounted because “the Malian population is hostage in the hands of terrorists […] who have even begun to kill people.”
  15. A dialogue is underway with the opposition in Mauritania, which “affects even the constitution.” That “marital status is highly volatile.” So it requires them to “establish a biometric identity, which is more consistent, fairer and more transparent.” And that “elections [municipal and legislative] are delayed to maximise transparency.”
  16. “People go out to protest all day long and never see the police” in Nouakchott. “They are even encouraged to protest! It does not bother the government. ” and he has “asked the Interior Minister to invite them to demonstrate, and see if he approves. “
  17. The problems in Mauritania of “employment, water, electricity, health, infrastructure and all these things […] result of mismanagement.” And that unemployment is a “problem of inadequacy of the country’s need.” That there is “one unemployed person in building” but thousands in other disciplines because “only 14% of students take science [and technology].” And “the problem in Mauritania is literature: this is the problem! Mauritania, they say it is the land of a million poets … ” That has to change, the government needs to create “technical colleges in the regions “. But “it’s been two years since we started on it” and “it will take a long time.”
  18. There are no “physical terrorists in Mauritania.” All “terrorists are in jail.”
  19. French tourists, in 2007, “were killed by prisoners that the old regime had released”.
  20. There is “no secret prison in Mauritania” but “prisoners [assassins or accomplices in the death of French nationals] are held incommunicado” somewhere for “their safety and that of the country”, so they can not “communicate with their leader.” And “their families did not ask to see them.”

Summary: 

A. Mali can continue to consider that Mauritania Aziz is definitely not the ideal neighbor.

B. Westerners can continue playing in the Mauritania sandbox.

C. Mauritanians can now spend their time learning science and technology, while listening to the President of a million poets talk about geopolitics, development and justice.

original version by Sid Ahmed for CIESMA, in Nouakchott,  15 April 2012 via mauritanidees

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