Thousands of protesters gathered in Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott, on Wednesday 2 May, calling on the President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to step down.
The rally was organized by the Democratic Opposition Coordination Committee, which has accused the leadership of stifling democracy in the west African nation. Demonstrators pledged to keep the protests going until the president resigns.
Abdel Aziz took power in a coup in August 2008, forcing out a democratically elected government. The regime claims the opposition now wants to seize power through violent means, after losing the last election. Aziz is rumoured to have personally supervised a violent police raid on the protest camp which happened under cover of darkness in the early hours of Thursday morning, 3 May. Police trapped the protesters in the courtyard of the mosque then bombarded them with tear gas, water cannon and percussion grenades. Protesters were unable to get out and ambulances were unable to reach the injured due to road blocks organised by police, using emergency services vehicles.
Mauritania has seen many protests since last year, inspired by the Arab Spring revolts. In April this year, demonstrators were tear-gassed by police during a “day of rage” against the government.
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