Repression in Mauritania

Police in Mauritania fired tear gas and beat union members Oct. 7 in the second protest this week against the new military regime. Workers threw rocks at police in running skirmishes around the streets of the capital Nouakchott. Police reportedly forced their way into private homes in their pursuit of protesters. Unions organized the protest in defiance of a police ban, two days after a similar protest by political parties opposed to the coup that was also banned and led to clashes. “They have orders to neutralize us,” said union leader Abderahmane Ould Boubou. “They beat me severely just to stop these demonstrations, but we’ve decided to carry on to the end. We will never allow them to take away our freedom of expression.” (Reuters, Oct. 8)

Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf, the prime minister appointed by the military junta, announced last week that the government would ban all protests. “I think that since May we have done nothing else than protest in this country; we are going to limit that, actually we’re going to ban all demonstrations from all sides,” he told Radio France Internationale. The junta, which seized power in August, has promised to hold new elections soon, but no date has been set. (AFP, Sept. 30)

See our last posts on Mauritania and the Sahel.