#Mauritania Headlines 29 May 2012


A quick round up of news and opinion from Mauritania:

  • Fuel prices have been increased for the fifth time this year.
  • Residents of three villages near Kaédi  will be marking this as the date it was announced they will be getting electrical power after waiting more than 50 years.
  • Russia’s envoy for African affairs, Mikhail Margelov, has expressed concern that Azawad’s bid for independence creates security concerns for Niger and Mauritania. He is dead right there, but Nigeria and Mauritania governments are no doubt well aware of this. More interesting would be to discover what is it they have been promised that persuaded them to comply with this scheme?
  • Abu Hafs family issued a statement complaining that the former Al Qaeda visionary had been given all sorts of promises about being allowed freedom to be with his family – presumably as part of the deal which brought him home to Mauritania from Iran – and asking all concerned to honor their word, and to stop pressuring him to meet with “foreign delegations” despite his refusals.
  • Condemnation of manipulating student rights Once again students are complaining about unfair treatment and unnecessary delays in applications being processed, especially of concern is the situation of those studying abroad.
  • Mauritania police to resume previous traffic control role The Army will be deployed to the increased border security checkpoints with Mali (and presumably, Senegal, where tensions are mounting due to the Aziz  administration’s heavy-handed treatment of Senegalese nationals. and..
  • This recent renewed talk about an Arab Maghreb Union is eyewash says this op-ed. What about Western Sahara, the Amazigh, the Tuareg, “Azawad”?
  • Palestinians are demanding Ould Abdel Aziz to expel their ambassador in Nouakchott after he refused to meet them because they are “Gazans”
  • The signing of six agreements for cooperation between Mauritania and Gambia on education, culture, oil, energy, air transport and tourism was a prelude to Aziz and his Gambian counterpart – both former military men who ousted their respective governments and went on to be elected — calling for a return to constitutional order in Mali and Guinea-Bissau.
  • Questions directed to the opposition Op-ed, basically asking how they keep managing to switch horses mid-stream without getting the hem of their dara’a wet
  • Aziz vows not to harass Chinguetti TV channel It’s been a year and this Egypt-based independent Mauritanian channel has still not been granted a licence, so maybe Aziz means he’s not going to harass them “any more than usual”. Fact is, he has prior issues with the major investor, a businessman. Some like to imply it’s because Aziz was told Chinguetti TV is supported by “Islamists” – but that is to be expected.
  • Unemployed graduates return to storm the Ministry of Employment this is the group that stormed the grounds of the presidential palace and were eventually arrested, then later freed. Disappointing part: no attempt to align themselves with other protest movements or indeed, the many thousands of other unemployed people in the country.
  • Democratic Party meeting in Nouakchott remarked on the Doha fire of Monday 28 May 2012 and sent condolences to the victims
  • Differences within COD opposition alleged. We get a lot of these rumours. Many hands stirring that pot.
  • Background gossip surrounds the dismissal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Ghilani Bottom line is he and Aziz are very much alike – authoritarian and dictatorial – which worked out fine for a while but now the honeymoon is well and truly over. Aziz appointed a rookie to replace the Chief Justice, who took office Monday 28 May. Tuesday saw the former Commissioner of Human Rights, illegally detained for 9 or 10 months now, finally appear in court on charges of corruption. The accountant for the HR commission resigned last month. Other legal tangles include the impending trial (or not) of Abdulah Senussi, the former head of Libyan Intelligence under Gaddafi, currently evading an international arrest warrant from the ICC, and another from France, by dint of being held in Mauritania on charges of entering the country illegally. All very Mrs Bin Laden. Closer to home, Libya’s NTC is saying that their relationship with Mauritania relies on the outcome of the Senussi case. The other key case is that of anti-slavery campaigner Biram Ould Obeid, illegally detained after causing massive and embarassing controversy after almost a month, along with 10 supporters. His wife Leyla was among weekend protesters in Nouakchott demanding Biram’s release. She got injured in the face (I read somewhere it was a tear gas grenade) for her trouble and wound up in the Emergency Room.
  • Women from poorer neighbourhoods of the economic capital, Nouadhibou, protested Monday 28 May about the dire lack of facilities, incuding provision of water, electricity, education and shops.
  • Nouakchott University expelled the head of the Student Union in response to ongoing student protests, and he retaliated by making a very loud, very public announcement in which he catalogued their many issues and failures. As he put it – he displayed their dirty laundry on the street.
  • Activists @medabdou and @bhourma from Mauritania joined Egypt’s onTV channel by Skype (a technical triumph considering their poor internet reliability) for a live discussion on Monday 28 May. Video here.
  • The onTV invite came in the wake of an item about Mauritania’s “overlooked” Arab Spring in the Guardian, written by the same guy from Arab Media Watch who was in Press TV’s discussion last week, Sharif Nashashibi. As is so often the case, the comments are far more interesting and revealing than the blog post. It did put me in mind of Al Jazeera’s token piece “Mauritania’s overlooked uprising – what happened to the Feb 25 Movement?” from January 28th.
  • Note: Most links are to Arabic sources

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