Mauritania: When the going gets tough, get going on holiday

It is a woebegone Ramadhan in Mauritania. Scandals, power outages, flood and neglect abound. While the freshly elected president, General Mohamed Abdel Aziz, sits air conditioned and on vacation in Spain (after reveling round Qadhafi’s bonfire), while Nouakchott is without power, the national radio broadcaster does not service the country’s vast interior, Mauritania’s third city, Rosso, is submerged by flooding along with large parts of the shanties around the capital, Nouakchott. One person has died in Rosso. Residents of the capital complain of the putrid smell of rotting food, standing and dirty water filling streets without sewers. Internet access is limited. PM Moulay Ould Mohamed Laghdaf made a surprise visit to the power station at Arafat, where the troubles related to the Nouakchott outages originated, as traders reported major losses. Ahmed Ould Daddah, a prominent opposition leader, has also used the opportunity to show his solidarity with flood victims. As a result of the horrendous floods, the government announced that it plans to “embark on a plan to study providing Mauritanian cities with a sanitation network to prevent urban flooding from rain water.” A miserable Mauritanian described her city as having returned to the Stone Age.

And if it sounds as if things could not get any worse, a man was killed by a camel south-east of the capital. He was whipped to the ground, and trampled to death. He was sixty. His name was Mohamed Abdallahi Ould Mohamed Vall.

Amid this, a climate of impunity, even arrogance prevails. Not only that, but the head of the Customs Department has been implicated in a massive scam to smuggle out millions in hard cash (in Euros) through the international airport. As Roussou and the capital languish after torrential rains, Taleb Vall Ould Abdi, the head of SNIM jets back and forth, north to south, in a private plane, an expense the opposition has called for him to halt. Ould Abdi previously was the chief of SOMELEC, the state agency responsible for electricity. Following its recent failure, he was moved (some say promoted) to one of the most important pieces of national infrastructure and a point of national pride: the state iron ore corporation. Taqadoumy has a detailed report on this phenomena. Six million ouguiyas are “missing” from the national assembly, after an agent of that body cashed a check signed by the Quaestor of the lower house in that amount and disappeared. This not long after Ould Abdel Aziz confirmed his commitment to not form a unity government following the contested elections of July last. Algeria has sent a batch of aid, foodstuffs and tents. The Minister of Petroleum is threatening to resign over contracts awarded to Muhsin Ould Hajj, contrary to his will and imposed from above. The blackouts are said to be the result of the government having pressured SOMELEC into providing additional electricity to a large cement factory, a request previously denied precisely for fear of power outages. The factory is owned by Mohamed Bouamatou (see here), a major supporter of Gen. Ould Abdel Aziz.

Incompetence shows elsewhere. Locals report that amidst the widespread paranoia around suicide bombers — as it was reported last month that several tens of AQIM bombers were roaming the country — men stationed at police checkpoints have taken to checking ordinary citizens’ vehicles thoroughly but hurriedly waving on menacing looking fellows. Indeed, out of fear, police are using the opposite “profiling” technique to that used in Algeria, Egypt and elsewhere: a long beard and other stereotypical “Salafi”/Islamist gear expedites one’s trip, rather than hinders it. Members of the government have called for a new strategy aimed at “raising awareness” about the threat of terrorism, calling attention to its “foreign and exotic” nature and specialized training.

The Mauritania of Mohamed Abdel Aziz is a hot, wet and hungry one. In that it is much like the Mauritania of years past. It is different in that in previous times, when things got messy, there was no vacation for the president, no rest for his cohorts. Whereas Ould Abdel Aziz protested his deployment to the interior following the 2005 GSPC attack, he has taken a defensive position at Las Palmas in the face of a suicide bombing, massive flooding, and the creaking of the country’s critical infrastructure. While Mauritanians’ food rots at home and in the market, and while citizens float from place to place in the south. The strategic logic of this position remains unknown. What is sure is its name: criminal neglect.

While Ould Abdel Aziz ran his campaign as a “president of the poor,” for those for whom the term “demagogy” did not occur then, it has come up prominently now. It is a very sad, very African story. A man arrives in the capital in a tank, hops out, makes a big speech, shakes his fist, occupies the presidential palace, gets rich (or stays rich), leads the country to ruin and takes happy holiday abroad. Whatever comes of Gen. Ould Abdel Aziz’s first, doleful Ramadhan as president, it will be for greater powers in the moment and beyond.


21 thoughts on “Mauritania: When the going gets tough, get going on holiday

  1. Well….I am not surprised to see Aziz neglegting his people, the poor once that he claimed to be there representetive and voice. But reality is setting in, and the feeling of betrail is being felt all over the country…The “president of the poor” is becoming the “president of poverety” My vote went to Ely Vall the man that proved his worth when he conducted a succeful transition and left a peaceful country with alot of hope and a horizon of prospirety.
    Aziz on the other hand, brought terorism by the torture he exercised on the muslim salafist in prisons, bad foreign policy, poorness and hopelessness to an already tiered people and country. Now this example will soon be repreduced in Guine where the putchist Dadis intend and plan to do like his ” Brother Aziz” as he stated, this means that the moment of fame that Mauritania enjoyed by being an example for democracy in the African and Arab world, is today replaced by Aziz example of seizing power forging results and consequently derailing the country from its path, bringing his peolpe to a dead end.
    Aziz have never posesed any knowledge to qualify him for the task to being president and a leader, Aziz was a body guard in the shadow of the leaders, but when the follower become a leader, then the power balance and governing perspective get upsidedown, and people loose vision….

  2. Cheikh El Wely,

    Sorry. Ex-Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall is the crookest person you can find under the sun and you know it.

    For ex-General Abdel Aziz, he is doing exactly what he accused Sidi Ould Checikh Abdallahi was doing: propomting the members of his family and going on useless missions when things were roting at home. I am starting to miss Maawiya Ould Taya.

    But all this is to be blamed on France and the US for manipulating the two coups (2005 and 2008) and crossing/double-crossing the rest of us. Senegal, Algeria, Libya, Mali, Gemany and Spain played each a role with instructions from France and the US.

    Look at what kind of clown that France wants to leave behind in Guinea (check the video of Dadis Camara). No comment on Ali Bongo.

    Kal: like alle, I don’t need to say how excellent is your post. More and more, the new President looks doing no more that his presdecessor Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. We have to deal with him for the next 5 years. My hope is that the ld political class goes into decay and we get a better one for the next election.

  3. Dear Tidinit,
    Thanks for your response and comment! As I mentioned before, my vote went to Ely Vall for many reasons, most of which are objective. If we choose to compare one leader to another starting from our first president Daddah who put our country into a ridiculess war with the West Sahara, only to fight on a peace of empty desert..totaly worthless, and the aftermath is still being felt and payed for from our economy. Not to mention what ex president Haidala, which was the contrary of Daddah bringing support to the Polisario and emptiying our reserve to finanace the same war, but now against Morocko…
    Maawiya was the type of dictator that only served his immidiate surrounding and made theme rule the economy of the country as if it was there own empire.
    All of this ex presidents/ Leaders/ Dictators or what ever we choose to call them, they are only from a bad example to a worst one.
    What I choose to give Ely Vall credit for, is that he came to power to make a change, and he did.
    We shall not forget that he did respect his promiss to leave power to a civilian governement and put end to the military rulling in Mauritania.
    Ely could have done like Aziz and candidate himslef, I am sure that the support and credibility he had were enough to put him in power by legitimat votes. This prooved to me that he was not intressted in seizing power to stay.
    Also the reforms that he made, such as:
    Making a new constitution for the country
    Bringing all parts togather by consensus
    Orgenising fair elections on all political levels
    Bringing impartiale observers from allover the world
    Oposition were satisfied by the results
    And last but not least a new president has been elected, and therfore the power was back to civilians.

    I also think that what happend after those elections is not the responsibility of the former CMJD, it is rather the new rulers competence and drive to exploite the new oppurtunity and make somthing from it.

    Ofcorse Aziz who never intended to leave the power, and continued to manipulate members of the parliament to make Cheikh Abdalahi loose majority, and therby create an institutional crises to justify his putch, only to get back to power any how and at any cost.
    Worthy to mention that when the CMJD and its head at the Time Ely Vall, left all necessary tools within the constitution to deal with any type of crises, and that political crises should be solved by institutional and constitutional tools.

    But…..Aziz seized power by a coup! and terorised the country and its people, Mauritania is now a ” Waite and see country” for everyone…
    The EU dont have a real democracy in Mauritania on theire list of priorities, or not even on the agenda!
    For the US it is the same…
    Therefore concerns to create a real democracy in Mauritania, is primerly mauritanian. the world will watch and see..and Mauritania will suffer…
    The oposition is making clear there rejection towards the dictatorhip that aziz just established…but Aziz should know one thing that Mauritanian will never accept him..and that the crises he created to move Cheikh Abdalahi is the same crises that will soon move him from where he clearly does not belong…I could only predict that this time Aziz will be set aside with a greater power than he himself used against Cheikh Abdalahi….
    Aziz is clearly creating enemies faster than he is killing theme!
    I see a self proclaimed president soon having to choose between the “Pest or the Colera”…..

  4. Dear Cheikh El Wely,

    I respect your views. By the way: I voted Messaoud during last election and I don’t know how he and Ould Daddah lost. But that is another story that Aziz and his friends will never let us know. I forgot to check how Ali Bongo won that vote last week.

    As Kal has reminded us, Aziz is taking too much vacation at the wrong moment, nominating some obscure people and we don’t know yet what he has in mind and who is he. I fully agree with you on your assessment on Aziz. I see some articles in Taqadoumy against him and his entourage and Taqadoumy makes rarely a mistake in describing what the mafia in Nouakchott is doing to grab this or that.

    However, my statement concerning Ely stands: he tried the “vote blanc” and left because Aziz pushed him out, preparing himself to use Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi for some time before pushing him out. Ely thought he would come back through the ballot in 2012, but Aziz wanted the power before that and he got it now. Same tactics the Algerian Generals did with Benjedid, Boudiaf and Zeroual. Indeed if you read carefully what the military in Algeria did after the death of Boumedienne, you will see a parallel with the guys in Nouakchott (helped discreetly by France and the US). Also Ely is a master crook: look at the way he signed exploration deals with small companies with signature bonuses nowhere to be seen. Mali signed with Energem and got US$ 3 millions and we signed at the same time with the same Energem and there was no signature bonus. He finished signing these exploration deals a day before he handed the keys to Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. He indeed signed off the whole country. Look at his villa: you think he built it with his salary of a Colonel of the police? I challenge Ely to write “un livre blanc” on the origin of his wealth and let us know what he grabbed during his transition. Aziz who knows him well accused him of embezzling US$400 millions during that short transition.

    Hope Aziz will talk soon to know if his interest is to bring something good to his country or all this game is for only the sake of getting into power. There is nothing the rest of Mauritanians can do but wait for the next 5 years, with the hope that all will be well and some bedfellows stop that AQMI game of theirs.

    Thanks Kal et alle for this site and the other one. I commnt only on something I guess I know. But I read evrything.

  5. Well Aziz could certainely take as much vacations as he wants!!! I am still not surprised!! I think that Aziz do not consider that the priorities to deal with acute issues in the country is that important.
    Aziz came to power only to seiz it, it is becoming very cleare that his intentions are only to stay and impose himself as he did from the verry first moment he made his coup.
    I think that whom ever thought that Aziz is the man to trust or to represent the divers political and social classes in Mauritania, is unfourtunetly wrong, which is very sad and depressing for those who trusted him….if there is any!!
    Let us take a look at this issue from a different angle. The sad part of this political tragedy is the fact that Aziz is in power today, and the unfortunate thing is that he legitimated himself by all thinkble means, either by fraud or foreing complices or local figures hoping to make a benefit from puting him where he is, and with the sole intresst to keep Mauritania a close country and economy, only serving those with influence and power.
    But ofcorse whome ever contributed to put Aziz in power, is today holding a bill infront of his door waiting to be payed!!
    France, Spain, Germany do have intressts in our country, represented in different economical exchange….how ever this exchange do need a stable country and politics, which also would need a national consensus and mutual understanding and agreement. well in todays reality the consensus despite being the most vital component in the abviously missing.
    When this countries chose to play on one hand, by supporting only Aziz, then they should know that playing on one hand is to much of a risk, and worst that they will soon realise that the one hand they chosed is the worst hand they could ever pick.
    Local contributers, meaning bussines man and others that supported Aziz, did also play on the same hand, and ofcorse they should expect the same outcome, if not worse!!
    All parts involved did play on one hand, which is that of a man that is still wearing gloves!!
    Mauritania is currently living one of the biggest crises of its history.This crises is certainely rooted in previouse problems and governing methods that has been exercised in our country, by previouse presidents.
    And it all summed up in the coup of 2003 by Ely Vall, where we thought and we hoped that this coup was the correction verry much needed, and an action that was our way out.
    Then another coup!!! one too many!!! No real reason, no real motive, and betrail and lies were promoted to justify it.
    Now do we think that ” The new Mauritania has been Born as Aziz claime”??
    Ofcorse not!! The newely born in Mauritania is an old infected crises, that has been recently given birth by the current rullers, and at the most unresting moments of our history.

    But as I mentioned in my previouse comments, that when the follower become a leader, then the balance of power and perspective of governing get upsidedown, and people loose vision…
    But Aziz is to be the first one to loose vision in this current situation, simply because he and his proclaimed partners forgot that:
    “Getting to power is not equal to staying in Power”
    Forces that has been used and mobelised to reach power, are the same that normaly should contribute to stay in power.
    But this same forces, what ever they are, and judging by the todays political reality, we could easily sens how weak they became, and how exhausted they seem to be…..there is only silence!!!! and no hope frome the supporters….

    But as we all know a self proclaimed majority, and a myth of being popular is what shows in the media in the package of a popilist acts, but certainely not what will be reflected in the post election reality.
    This is where the good part comes to save a tiered nation, and dabestated people, nowdays distressed by hunger and povrety and natural catastrophies, this is ofcorse beside the man made once.

    for the first time in our history we do have a well orgenised opposition, and a united front.
    one could ask himself why??
    The answer is simple, the handover of power in 2007, and the sens of transperency and trust were established…now began the era of democracy, the hope for better future, the sens of recognition for our country….we became an example to be followed, a model to be looked up to.
    Now Mauritanian are living there first dream….
    And then Aziz came as a nightmare…every one is choked and in disbeliev.
    A united front was born…clearly the post 2007 Mauritania do have alot on stake, and the newely gained constitutional methods are being mobelised to face the irreguliarety and the threat of a new dictatorship.
    This verry united front is the one today capitelising on its position and stand point, which clearly reject Aziz in all forms and shapes, and will do till he gets out…
    The political class in Mauritania has a cose and will defend it simply by knowing how hard earned it was.
    The Mauritania of Aziz made alot of people loose there dear democracy…..and in return every one is claiming it back…….

  6. Bravo Cheikh El Wely.

    Very good assessment. Am with you, particularly as Ahmed Ould Daddah and messaoud ould Boulkheir have not recignized Aziz’s transparent winning. Azizstill on vacation. Wondering if h has any other vision besides blasting his oponents on graft. More later on this.

  7. Thank you Tidinit
    It will be intressting to see how things will develope frome here.
    Mr Kal: thanks for good articles that shade light on truth and realities in Mauritania.

  8. Thanks Cheikh El Wely. Let’s go to Niger to fill some dots. Canadians are not known to be fools and to lie. A secret UN envoy, probably trying to make some business for canadian mining companies instead of doing his UN business almost lost his life.

    In reading what is on the front page of Temoust, do you think that this AQMI business is state sponsored or not?

    Why the US and France not wanted by Algeria to deal with AQMI, along the other puppet countries such as Mauritania, Mali and Niger? No mention of Libya and Morocco.

    I do believe that the conspiracy theorists have a point. Are they right 80%? 70? 50%? They got it right in between. That is for sure. My references are François Gèze and Salima Mellah as well as Jeremy Keenan. The rest is not convincing.

    What do you think about the above? We are sick and tired of these manipulations for the sake of personal power playing the larbin’s role (I can’t find th english word for larbin). AQMI does not exist: it is all game.

  9. I did not look into the issue very deeply as I wish have had, I am still busy following the Group of contact in Mauritania…Oposition insisting on a impartial recalculation of the votes..and many more things…
    But a simple answer to a complicated question would be: That all this countries mentioned above, looks after there intressts in different other countries….Now do I believe that AQMI is simply a claime!! NO! if I would have, I would then believ that Ousama Bin Ladin is just a Myth!
    But the truth is that this westerners would look after there intressts in all possible ways. If the local governement is cooperetive then they would support it to reach there goals, and if Al-QAIDA or AQMI has more power and shows intrest in cooperating, then they will choose Al-Qaida/AQMI.
    bottom line is: That westerners would simply choose whome ever could guarantee there intressts eaven if that is the devil himself.
    Dont forget that Ousama was trained and financed to fight the communist from Russia…today he is Wanted by the same people that once supported him.
    Aziz & Daddis are both chosen to guarantee certain intressts for this countries.
    I could simply say that whatever force would seem to be in power in a third world country, it will then benefit from a large support. Ofcorse this local powers are not seen for how they treat there people, they are rather seen from the point of view of how cooperative they are with westerners.
    Thanks again Mr. Tidinit
    Please let us follow what is taking place currently in Mauritania and its opposition…I need to see this dictator leaving soon..
    Please update us on that.

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