Mauritania. In January, Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid and two
other slavery opponents were sentenced to two years in
prison for being members of an illegal organization and for
leading an unauthorized demonstration and perpetrating
violence against the police. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the three were arrested in
November 2014. Abeid, who became second in the 2014
presidential election, leads the organization Initiative
pour la Resurgence du mouvement Abolitioniste, which combats
slavery in Mauritania. Although slavery was formally
abolished in 1981 and became punishable in 2007, Mauritania
has in practice remained the country in the world where the
largest proportion of the population lives as slaves.
In August, Parliament passed a new law that extends the
concept of slavery to include, among other things, forced
marriage. At the same time, the maximum penalty for
violating the law was increased from 10 to 20 years in
prison. The decision did not affect the judgments of Abeid
and his fellow prisoners; on the contrary, the prison
sentence was determined by a court. In December, the
government decided to set up three special courts with the
task of dealing with slavery issues.
In 2003, Taya was forced to leave the presidential palace
after violent clashes with rebellious soldiers in
Nouakchott. The government had secured enmity with several
Islamic countries, having built close relations with Israel
since 1984. However, troops loyal to the incumbent president
eventually regained control of the capital. That same year,
the president was re-elected with 67% of the vote and Sghair
Ould M'Bareck took over the prime ministerial post. The
Deputy Director of the Interior Ministry, Abdi Ould Horma,
stated that all necessary steps had been taken to ensure
open and fair elections and that the presence of foreign
election observers had therefore been superfluous. The
opposition repeated the allegations of electoral fraud.
In December, ex-President Khouna Ould Haidalla was given
5 years of his sentence for allegedly organizing a coup
d'état to overthrow the Thai government. Haidalla refused to
attend such events and had been detained since November 9.
He was released 2 days before the election.
In August 2004, soldiers from the Mauritanian navy were
arrested on suspicion of planning a coup. Police Chief Sidi
Ould Riha stated that the plans had been supported by
Burkina Faso, who had supported the soldiers with money and
infrastructure. The month after, the government declared it
had hindered another coup attempt. Acc. Interior Minister
Mohamed Ghali Ould Cherif Ahmed was talking about the third
coup attempt in 15 months.
In October, Mauritania received $ 12.9 million. Euro from
the EU for the fight against the grasshoppers, which in
previous months had ravaged the border areas against the
Sahel. Acc. FAO estimates 40% of the country's crops and
pasture had already been destroyed as a result of the
grasshopper invasion. FAO's forecasts for the further
development of the plague were negative as it could spread
to the rest of the country.
At the beginning of August 2005, the military conducted a
coup d'état and announced the formation of a military
council to lead the country for the next 2 years, thus
paving the way for the establishment of an "open and
transparent democracy". President Taya had become
increasingly unpopular day by day because of his radical
assaults on supposed Islamists and his support for the
United States and Israel. He himself was during the coup in
Saudi Arabia for the funeral of King Fahd, and he was
granted political asylum in Qatar. The coup makers created a
Military Council for Justice and Democracy under the
leadership of Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall. However, they
did not remove the Prime Minister and his government, but
they withdrew on 7 August. The coup makers then appointed
Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar as new prime minister. Many
observers pointed out that another motive for the coup could
be the country's recent entry into the oil-producing
countries, and the economic benefits the new situation
affords the rulers. This could also be the reason for the
many coup attempts in previous months.
Although slavery was officially abolished in 1981 and the
official position is that it is no longer used in the
country, in May 2006 military junta leader Ely Uld Mohamed
Vall admitted that slavery still exists in the country and
he declared himself in favor of eradicating this practice.
"I protest against any form of slavery and ask all
Mauritanian people to do the same," Vall declared.