On May 3 a group of Mauritanian students made a surprise revelation [ar] at a press conference they organized that was covered by Mauritanian state television. They announced that the president's chief of staff Isselkou Ould Izidbih [former president of the University of Nouakchott] had attempted to bribe them to give up their struggle for students’ rights as well as to stop sit-ins and protests.
The group's spokesperson said that the president's chief of staff had asked them to split from the National Union of Mauritanian Students in return for a position paying 500 000 ouguiya [approx. $1700] as well as financial support for a number of students and a scholarship in a country of their choice.
The group said that after a number of meetings with Izidbih in the Presidential Palace they had made him believe they would split off, and would announce it in a press conference. They prepared everything, such as arranging media coverage and booking a hall in the luxury Al Khaima Hotel.
But they gave him a slap in the face when they revealed his plot to the media and exposed him to the public, giving evidence of his direct interference in the university and attempt to incite unrest within it. The students also accused the president's chief of staff of being behind racist incidents at the university by hiring and inciting some students.
The following video [ar] shows part of the press conference:
After the announcement Mauritanian state television withdrew from the press conference; it is worth mentioning that this was the first time it had been present at an event of this kind.
Blogger Dada Ould Sheikh Ibrahim wrote about the case:
لكنني اليوم فهمت ما يجري فقد عقد بعض الطلبة مؤتمراً صحفياً بفندق الخيمة ليعلنوا انسحابهم من الاتحاد الوطني لطلبة موريتانيا وقد حضر إلى المؤتمر عدد كبير من أفراد الأمن بزي مدني وبعض أعوان النظام وما إن بدأ المؤتمر حتى فجر الطالب: ألمين ولد حمادي عضو المكتب التنفيذي للإتحاد الوطني لطلبة موريتانيا حقائق قوية عن إغرائه بالتوظيف والمال من طرف مدير ديوان رئيس الجمهورية ورئيس جامعة انواكشوط السابق السيد إسلك ولد إزيد بيه لشق صفوف الاتحاد الوطني بإشراف مباشر من العضو السابق بنفس الاتحاد السيد إطول عمر.
But today I finally understood what's going on. Some students arranged a press conference in Al Khaima Hotel, to announce their split from the National Union of Mauritanian Students. The press conference was attended by a large number of security personnel in plain clothes, as well as some government agents. Just after it started Almeen Ould Hamadi, member of the executive office of the National Union of Mauritanian Students, surprised everyone. He revealed that Isselkou Ould Izidbih, the president's chief of staff and the former president of the University of Nouakchott, had offered him a job and money to split the union, under the direct supervision of a former member of the same union, Mr Itwal Omar.
The Victims Against Corruption group made a statement about the case:
وإننا واعتمادا على المعلومات المفزعة التي تم تقديمها خلال هذا المؤتمر الصحفي، والتي أشفعت بأدلة قوية لم يتم تفنيدها حتى الآن من الجهات المتضررة، لنعلن :
1 بأن صدمتنا كانت كبيرة من تحول ديوان رئاسة الجمهورية إلى إدارة لتقديم الرشا لبعض الطلاب ولإغرائهم بمنح وبوظائف في المستقبل، وذلك لتحقيق مكاسب سياسية ضيقة وآنية.
2 كما نعلن عن أسفنا الكبير من تحول إدارة ديوان الرئيس الذي يرفع شعار الحرب على الفساد إلى إدارة فاسدة تعمل على تفشي الفساد وعلى اتساعه بدلا من المساعدة في محاربته..
We are relying on the alarming information presented in the press conference, supplemented with strong evidence that has not been refuted so far by those concerned, to announce the following:
1. We were greatly shocked that the president's office has turned into a department offering bribes to some students, tempting them with scholarships and future jobs, in pursuit of temporary and narrow political gains.
2. We are also greatly saddened that the administration of the president's office, which raised the banner of fighting corruption, has become corrupt itself and is spreading the problem instead of helping to eliminate it.
The activist known as Mahmoum bi Mauritania tweeted:
Nasser Al Hashemi also tweeted about the case:
I strongly believe this is the real reason for the Mauritanian government striking a deal to settle the dispute with the ISERI college students. Meanwhile, 21 Nouakchott University students have been suspended or expelled for their protests and strikes. The 21 includes student union leaders and five medical students who arranged a blood donor drive and campaign to clean up the campus.
Meanwhile, the government’s counter-revolution slush fund has been diverted to creating yet another pro-gov youth movement.