Mauritania: Demanding an End to Military Rule

Mauritanians took to the streets in a massive march calling for the end of their country's military rule.

The march, on June 23, 2012, was organised by the Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD). It started near the Youth Centre in the capital Nouakchott, passing by the Security Directorate and the Palace of Justice, where participants chanted for the fall of the ruling regime. The day ended with a popular rally.

Speakers insisted on the necessity of ending the current regime, stressing they will not enter into negotiation with the military. “Marches and protests show that the people reject the regime and they represent all what remains to Mauritanians of hope to preserve the state,” said Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, the country's former president.

صورة من المسيرة تصوير صفحة أخر خبر مأخوذ بأذن

Photo of the protest used with permission from the page “Latest News ”  آخر خبرا

This event follows a call by the People's Progressive Alliance leader Messaoud Ould Boulkheir to the opposition to initiate a dialogue with the regime of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in order to put an end to the current crisis which has been raging in the country for more than a year. Ould Boulkheir met with all opposition parties in Mauritania introducing the initiative to them and asking them to endorse it.

Boulkheir's initiative was met with fury by the February 25th  Youth Movement [ar – fr], which has been calling for the ouster of the regime  for more than a year. The movement also launched a Facebook campaign entitled “No to Saving the General” which asks various political parties to boycott the initiative.

Likewise, “For Mauritania” organization, issued a document [ar] explaining why Mauritanians should demand the departure of the military regime.

‏@sidimedlemin نشر صورة من المهرجان الذي انتهت به المسيرة

the rally after the march …. photo by @sidimedlemin

Mauritanian blogger Dedda Ould Cheikh Brahim attended the protest and wrote about it:

عند وصول المسيرة إلى الساحة وجدت أمامها كم كبير من أصحاب الباصات المضربين والمستائين من حجم الضرائب التي فرضتها الحكومة عليهم وقد قام بعض نواب المعارضة بزيارتهم ومآزرتهم في محنتهم. وقد لوحظ تأثر المسيرة بغياب بعض الشباب بسبب تزامنها مع مبارات مهمة في كأس أمم أوروبا والتي جمعت بين إسبانيا وفرنسا، وقد تابعت نتيجتها من داخل الساحة وعبر كمبيوتر بعض الشباب.
By the time the march reached the square, protesters found a large number of bus drivers on strike and who were angry from the amount of taxes imposed on them by the government. Some of the opposition MPs visited them to show their support in their ordeal. The absence of some young people from the march was also noticed. They were absent due to the match between Spain and France in the Euro Cup. I followed the results from the Square, thanks to some folks who had their computers with them.

The Facebook Page of the Youth Organization “تواصل” – Tewassoul (Communication), posted more than 92 photos of the event. It said:

جماهير المعارضة ترفع شعار الرحيل ويطوق صدى شعاراتها منطقة القصر الرئاسي
Opposition Crowds raise the “Departure” slogan and the echo of their chants reaches the presidential palace zone.

The protest was also covered by the Youth of Democratic Forces Gathering – شباب التكتل where we can also find photographs and a document.

News about the rally was also spread by Mauritanian Twitter users, like Mejd, who noted:

‏@mejdmrأحمد ولد داداه أمّ المتظاهرين في ساحة إبن عباس عند إقامتهم لصلاة المغرب
Ahmed Ould Dedda lead the prayers in Ibn Abbas square during the Maghrib or evening

Taha Ould Habib for his part denounced the lack of coverage by Al Jazeera Channel for the opposition march:

@tahabib الجزيرة تتجاهل تماما مسيرة ومهرجان ‎‫الحشدالكبير،‏ لم تتحدث ولو بشطر كلمة عن المسيرة
Al Jazeera completely ignores the big march and rally. There isn't even a single mention of the event.

One day before the protest Moustapha Ould Bab Ahmed tweeted about the distribution of fish to the poor by the government so as to dissuade them from taking part in the rally.

‏@MostaphaBtt غدا مسيرة المعارضة، يعني أن غدا يوم سخاء النظام لمن أغلق عليه بابه أو دخل دار أبي سفيان!!
Tomorrow is the opposition march which means tomorrow is a day of generosity by the government towards those it closed its door against before.

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