Mauritania. According to
Countryaah, two French TV channels broadcast in
mid-January a program claiming that slavery exists in M.
Shortly thereafter, three of the country's leading human
rights activists were arrested. They were sentenced in
February to 13 months in prison for being active in
prohibited organizations and for spreading false
accusations. However, they were pardoned the following
month, which was partly seen as a benevolent gesture to US
President Bill Clinton during his African trip. President Maaounya Ould Sidi Ahmed Taya, during a visit to France in
March, rejected all information about the occurrence of
slavery in Mauritania.
In mid-April, the ruling Party Republican Democratique et
Social (PRDS) consolidated its position in the Senate, as
the party won 17 of the 18 seats that were at stake. Most of
the opposition parties boycotted the election.
A military transport plane crashed in May just a minute
after taking off from Néma airport, killing 36 people. On
board were among others. three officers and a military
alliance that would follow the president to the eastern part
of the country.
In October, 60 Islamic leaders were detained and accused
of "creating a climate of fear". The government subsequently
ordered the "fundamentalist" activists to cease their
In January 1995, thousands of protesters ravaged
Nouakchott, burned cars and looted businesses. This occurred
in the wake of significant price increases for the basic
consumer goods triggered by the introduction of VAT.
In June, Mauritanian lenders agreed to renegotiate the
country's debt, and it was partially abandoned.
In January 1996, President Taya appointed Afia Ould
Mohamed Khouna as Prime Minister. Most of the opposition
boycotted the April election, with a new Senate elected. The
PRSD government party therefore got most of the seats in the
Senate, and in the October elections it captured 71 of the
79 seats of the National Assembly.
In June, the country signed an agreement with the EU that
gave it access to fixed credits over a five-year period
against the Union being granted fishing rights in
Mauritania. International organizations assessed that the
country was improving its macroeconomic situation. Yet
macroeconomic indicators still rank it among the world's
In the December 1997 elections, President Taya was
re-elected with about 90% of the vote, and subsequently
appointed Mohamed Lemine Ould Guig as Prime Minister.
In April 1998, human rights organizations demanded the
end of slavery in Mauritania. Three members of humanitarian
organizations had been sentenced to prison sentences after
condemning the use of slavery in the country.
In October, Taya asked Prime Minister Guig to resign. He
had become extremely unpopular in the population. Instead,
sheikh Mohamed Khouna was appointed and this one formed a
The Paris Club decided to reduce Mauritania's foreign
debt by DKK 620m. dollars. Officials from the International
Financial Institution explained that the reduction was due
to Mauritania's efforts to reform its economy. The
government announced the privatization of electricity supply
and water services. Information Minister Rachid Ould Salah
stated that the government was seeking a majority
shareholder for the energy supply, while it would retain the
majority in the water system. On the recommendation of the
World Bank, the country continued to privatize the
The parliamentary and local elections in 2001 continued
to give a majority to the ruling party, but the opposition
strengthened its representation in the municipalities and
rose in parliament from 1 to 10 seats. Even though a
multi-party system already existed in the 1990s, the
electoral system did not foresee the participation of
minorities. The new proportional electoral system ensured a
more equitable distribution of seats in parliament. The
World Bank provided a loan of DKK 119 million. US $ to
improve living conditions in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou in
particular. In 2002, the government dissolved the Action for
Change party. The party defending the descendants of the
slaves and of Mauritanian blacks was accused of threatening
national unity and inciting intolerance.