Mauritania: democratic transition …except for slaves

Speaking to reporters after winning Mauritania’s first “free elections,” Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdalahi pledged to “transform” the nation and “build a country that conforms to the norms of justice and economic development.” In implicit reference to the early-’90s violence, in which Black Africans were expelled to neighboring Senegal and Mali, he said he would work for democracy “founded on tolerance and acceptance” to “reinforce national unity.” But IRIN notes March 28 that “because of his association with former Taya supporters, Mr Abdalahi’s detractors have alleged that his victory means the military’s influence will creep back into politics, a perception not helped by the army chief of staff Ahmed Ould Daddah issuing a statement congratulating Mr Abdalahi on his victory.”

Sparse news accounts in the West on the Mauritanian elections have generally hailed an historic step towards democracy. New accounts have noted that institutionalized slavery of Black Africans survives in Mauritania, an issue which Abdalahi has not directly addressed.

See our last posts on Mauritania, its supposed democratic transition, and the struggle in the Sahel.

See our special feature on slavery in Mauritania.