Sahara Media on a sad Ramadan

Last week, Sahara Media published a piece summarizing the misery that has befallen Mauritanians on their first Ramadan under president Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (it is their second under him, the first having been under his junta). It uses hard hitting personal accounts and quotes everyday people. That Sahara Media published this piece is meaningful: the website is known for being less radically critical than other, more directly opinionated sites such as Taqadoumy (or even the Islamist oriented al-Akhbar). For them to have published such a dreary piece about Mauritania’s state of affairs indicates that the new government (which was formed in direct defiance of calls for a unity government after the acrimonious election in July) is doing rather poorly, even from a middle of the road position, within the Mauritanian political spectrum. A slum dewller is quoted as saying “as for us poor people, the crisis has not affected us, because we had no electricity or running water to begin with,” highlighting the problems facing Mauritania’s capital. The article concludes by describing the city as being “in need of urgent medication as a result of a suffering heart and arteries, lacking infrastructural architecture necessary for a city that hosts close to one million people, with hundreds of thousands more candidates with every sunrise.”


11 thoughts on “Sahara Media on a sad Ramadan

  1. Any idea how to translate that news article from Sahara Media into English? Their English website isn’t quite done it seems…

    Thanks for writing about this!

  2. Kal, if Mauritania keeps going like this, do you think we will see major dissent and protests against Abdel Aziz? And if voices from across the political spectrum begin to criticize him, how do you think he will react?

  3. Good question Alex. Too many attacks from all sides, including cases of corruption and inefficiencies against some of his comrades, surrounding allies and other pets. The sudden friendship from Washington, the AU among others (there is no more mystery regarding France, Libya, Senegal for long time), cast some doubt about the transpaency of his election. Hope he does not go nuts. I will, if I were him.

    President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz: please don’t shoot!

  4. If things do not spiral entirely out of control, which seems unlikely, I think the Abdelaziz coup simply brings us back to the pre-2005 situation. An illegitimate president rules through a facade of democratic structures that no one really has any faith in, and regional and international players look the other way. There will be a margin of tolerated opposition, and a decently freewheeling press, but most dissident leaders will accept to be coopted into the system for the right price, when they realize that change isn’t going to come from either the street or the international community.

    By now, I think it’s all about waiting for the next military plot, while Abdelaziz muddles through without much of a plan. The alternatives are either a slow slide into chaos, or the development of a stronger and more united civil society opposition that can force a degree of change without foreign support. But my money is on a new internal coup happening before either of those two things, which both seem quite unlikely. Not necessarily anytime soon, though.

    Sorry for being pessimistic…

  5. No, not a clue. I’m sure it must be pretty solid, since he’s in charge, the junta and its tail of junior officers owe their positions to him, and his people have been handling promotions for years. The BASEP (presidential guard) is essentially his private army — he built it from scratch — and that is the unit most useful in coups, as well as in defending against them.

    On the other hand, one should remember that the 2005 coup came from the heart of a system that ould el-Tayaa had been fine-tuning over 20 years, so one should never say never. And obviously Abdelaziz’s regime has had a rocky start, and is probably still in some form of consolidation stage. The 2005-2008 period saw a lot of senior staff shifts, in the context of military factional fights, but I’m not sure what has happened since.

    But anyway, this is just my speculation. I’m sure Tidinit or other Mauritanians can give you a better answer.

  6. Hello Mr Alle!
    I have no doubt that you will see a major dissent and protests against Aziz! “The question is not if! The question is when?”
    France, Spain, Germany, Senegal, this countries supported Aziz only because he made it clear to them, that he will stay in power by any means! Even a new coup was viable!
    This also means that Aziz is not a firsthand choice for these countries…but in such circumstances they were confined to choose him based on the power position he had.
    Regarding protests, and especially if they will take place or not? The answer is that they will most certainly take place, but it is still the wrong time for any protests from the part of the opposition.
    The opposition is playing on taking more time; just time enough for the Mauritanian to see the real face of Aziz! The myth of the “President of the poor” is still living in the mind of a fraction of our society, and therefore it has to be proven wrong before taking any action.
    But when the time to act is right, then I am sure that every protester from the opposition side will be joined by ten others from the Aziz side.
    I can just imagine how strong the reaction will be from the be traded people, the poor once that Aziz lied to in their faces, and more catastrophically manipulated their opinion and broke their trust, not only in himself, but unfortunately in the very sense of the state of law, and democratic and civil society.
    Despite all of this we don’t have to be pessimist Mr Alle.
    Because the stand point of the opposition in Mauritania today is very honoring.
    Ould Vall, Ould Maolood, Ould Belkheir and Ahmed Daddah, all made it clear that no discussion will ever take place before the verification of the forged election results.
    I did previously predict that our opposition would stand for itself and its people, and I am happy to see that being realized today.
    The last one to join the rest of the opposition is Ould Daddah, but since Thursday he came out with clear message to Aziz.
    Now regarding any foreign support that Aziz may have enjoyed, there will be consequences!
    The support from complicit countries is solely a support to whom they believed could serve their interests……but after this strong and united front from our opposition, things are about to take another turn!
    The support from these countries could only continue if there is a minimum of support and stability in the Mauritania of Aziz! I think that it is needless to point out that there is none of it.
    The weight of the opposition and its pressuring strategy will soon be felt from the side of the international community, let alone how bothering for Aziz to see a front united primarily to put him out of the game.
    So mr Alle I am not worried and you should not be.
    Interesting though!!!!!!
    France said yesterday that Daddis in Guinea, should honor his promise, and not run for the coming elections!!!!!! The motive they said, they don’t see that as being in the interest of the country!!!!??????
    Am I really hearing this statement from France!!? I just could not believe it!!
    Well this is to say that: We have realized that this theatrical play was not very popular in Mauritania!! Therefore we are not about to support another Aziz in Guinea.
    This also means that the lesson from forging results in Mauritania, and appointing an illiterate idiot in Mauritania is not a smart move, even though as I previously said that they were obliged to support him since his intention was to stay in power no matter what.
    I think that the new Francafrique de Sarkozy is being revised from his part. Simply because the Francafrique is not anymore French or English or chines…the new Africa is an Africa where hunger and deprivation prevails, and consequently the bound and alliances will only be formed based on common interests and not loyalty!
    Please note that major supporter to Aziz in Africa were Senegal and Libya, but the tandem ride seemed a bit difficult, and the balance is shaking.
    Now Khadafy announced himself out of the game, and not even a single penny was paid in support to the victims of the catastrophe in Mauritania.
    France and others will soon have to follow, because Aziz is showing day after day that his the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time…..

    Thanks Kal, Alle and Tidinit…..wish you a iid moubarak…

  7. Eid Moubarak to you too!

    But I think I’ll stick with my pessimism for the time being. The Mauritanian opposition leaders have shown before that they are ready to make deals to ensure their personal positions (under el-Tayaa for example). I think there’s a big chance they will do so again, or at least some of them — enough to render the rest of the opposition impotent.

    That is if the situation doesn’t continue to deteriorate seriously, and I suppose it could. I’m not sure that would be of any help to the opposition and Mauritanian democrats though. Both inside the regime and outside of the country people would be looking not primarily to democratic elections, but rather for a strongman to keep things straight, if Abdelaziz cannot — meaning another military man.

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