Following a coup d'état a year ago, the election of the coup's leader, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, to the presidency, and the country's first-ever suicide bombing in early August, Mauritania continues to experience massive changes.
A Peace Corps volunteer stationed in Mauritania provides her perspective at Becky's Mauritanian Adventures:
As you've noticed, there has been a lot of instability in Mauritania since the beginning of my service last year. As I suspected, they have decided we will not be allowed to return to Mauritania. Today was obviously a very sad day for all of us, but I'm trying to remember that this also opens up a whole world of possibilities for the future. I will be back in America (again) probably within the next week. I've got a lot of ideas about what comes next, but I'm pretty sure it involves more Peace Corps service. I'm not going to write all the details here, because I don't know them all, but I'll be sure to keep you all updated.
Assessing the situation, news blog Newstime Africa stated [Ed. note: the post has since been deleted]:
The decision to close the Peace Corps Centre in the country came as a surprise to the nation because the volunteers were really helpful to the people. The Peace Corps whose headquarters is in Washington is active in 74 countries around the globe. Since 1967, the Peace Corps started implementing humanitarian programme in the Islamic Empire of Sand; more especially in the agricultural, health and educational sector and they have largely improved the standard of education in the country even though majority of the people prefer Islamic education to western one. Their departure have caused a big blow to the government more especially the rural people who have become more accustomed to them due to their generosity. President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has promised to fight against the extremists in all form deem best for the security of the country.
The blogger went on to say:
Meanwhile the formation of the new government which comprised of twenty one ministers is still the talk of the country, four days after their nomination. They are all educated elites with superior diplomas in various Universities and institutions both in the country and outside.
More specifically, the talk of the country (or at least the blogosphere) is Naha Bint Hamdi Ould Mouknass, recently appointed by the government to the position of foreign minister; As blogger The Moor Next Door points out:
Ms. Bint Ould Mouknass is the first woman to hold the post in any Arabic-speaking country; she is joined by five other female appointees in General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz’s government.
The blogger goes on to explain the significance of this posting:
Her appointment is at once clever and utilitarian: Bint Mouknass’s appointment, like that of her predecessor, is an attempt to appeal to outside audiences with a fresh and “soft” face. The General is also offering spoils to his supporters (more on this later). It also puts a wedge between the new government and the Islamist movement, whose policy it co-opted prior to (and during, mind you) the presidential election (e.g., Israel), it is thought to be politically beneficial to act contra the movement’s ideology, thereby clearly distinguishing himself from it, especially in light of his efforts to “fight terrorism,” though this was surely thought up well before last week’s suicide bombing (and likely without their possibility in mind).
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