Formerly part of French West Africa, Mauritania gained independence in 1960 with Moktar Ould Daddah as Head of State. After independence all political parties were merged, and in 1964 Mauritania was declared a one-party state. Mauritania established its own currency (the ougiya) and joined the Arab League.
A military coup of 1978 replaced the ruling party and dissolved the National Assembly. The 1961 constitution was also abandoned. Frequent changes of leadership since then have involved periods of instability. Internal relations have been strained between the Moorish majority and black southern minority and externally with Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, over the conflicting Arabicisation and Islamicisation policies of successive governments.
Municipal elections, the first since independence, were held in December 1986, paving the way for parliamentary elections. A new constitution came into effect in 1991 which provided for a multiparty system. In June 2006 a referendum vote approved constitutional changes limiting the length of a presidency to two five-year terms.
ged and was only s t clear what the aim of the coup was but it was suspected that it had been staged by dissatisfied army officers and hardline Islamists protesting at the rule of President Taya (who came to power himself during a coup in 1984), and his support of Israel and the West.
In August 2005, while President Taya was in Saudi Arabia attending the funeral of King Fahd, troops took control of key government buildings and a group of army officers announced that they had overthrown the president. The group established a military council, the Military Council for Justice and Democracy, led by Colonel Ely Ould Mohammed Vall, who had been the director of national security since 1987. Colonel Vall announced that free and fair presidential elections would be held within two years and that leaders of the coup would not stand for election. One of the Council's first acts was to appoint an interim government with Sidy Mohamed Ould Boubacar as prime minister. Presidential elections took place in March 2007, and were won by a former cabinet minister, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi.
In April 2007 the African Union agreed to the readmission of Mauritania; it had been suspended following the 2005 coup.
In August 2007, parliament passed legislation that would outlaw slavery. The practise was still going on despite a ban in 1981.
On 6 August 2008, troops staged a coup and formed a state council to run the country. President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi had tried to dismiss four senior army officers, including the head of the presidential guard, Gen Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, who responded by launching the coup. The President and the Prime Minister were arrested. The African Union (AU) condemned the coup. Later that week the AU suspended Mauritania's membership of the group and the US suspended all non-humanitarian aid. The military government has since promised to hold a constitutional referendum and elections.
In April 2009 the military coup leader, Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, resigned as chair of the High Council of State so that he could stand in the forthcoming presidential elections, scheduled for mid-July 2009. The leader of the Senate, Ba Mamadou M'Baré, became the interim president. Following the elections, which Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdelazis won, there were allegations of vote rigging, and the electoral commission resigned.
The Parliament of Mauritania is bicameral. The National Assembly or Al Jamiya-al-Wataniya has 81 directly elected members who serve for a five year term. The Senate or Majilis al-Chouyoukh has 56 indirectly elected members who serve a six year term. Three of the Senate members represent Mauritanian nationals living abroad.
Lower House National Assembly, (Jamiya-al-Wataniya), B.P. 185, Avenue de l'Indépendance, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 5251 130, fax: +222 5257 078
(as at September 2009)
Prime Minister: Moulaye ould Mohamed Laqhdaf Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation: vacant Minister of Interior and Decentralisation: Mohamed Ould Maaouiva Minister of Finance: Sid'Ahmed ould Raiss Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy: Hacenna ould Ely Minister of Industry and Mines: Mohamed Abdellahi ould Oudaa Minister of Oil and Energy: Die ould Zeine Minister of Civil Service, Labour and Professional Training: Hacen ould Limam ould Amar Jowda Minister of Equipment and Transport: Camara Moussa Seydi
Minister of National Education: Ahmed ould Bah Minister of Health: Mohamed Abdellahi ould Siyam Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport: Sidi ould Samba Minister of Justice: Ahmedou Tidjane Bal Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation: Mohamed Lemine ould Aboye Minister of Islamic Affairs and Basic Education: Othmane ould Cheikh Ahmed Aboul Maali Minister of Defence: Mohamed Mahmoud ould Mohamed Lemini Minister of Trade, Tourism and Handicrafts: Bamba ould Dermane Minister of Housing, and Town and Country Planning: Sy Adama Minister of Rural Development: Messaouda mint Baham Minister of Relations with Parliament and Communications: Mohamed ould Mohamed Abderrahmane ould Moine Minister of Women's Affairs, Childhood and Family: Selama mint Cheikhna ould Lemrabott Delegate Minister to the PM, responsible for the Environment: Mohamed ould Ahmed Salem Secretary of State responsible for Maghreb Union Affairs: Mohamed Abderrahmane ould Mohamed Ahmed Secretary of State for Administration Reform, Information and Communication Technologies: Sidi ould Mayouf Secretary General for the Government: Ba Ousmane Minister of Secretary General of the Presidency of the High Council of State: Mohamed Lemine Ould Guig
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development, B.P. 238, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 1612, fax: +222 525 5110, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL: http://www.maed.gov.mr Ministry of Foreign Affairs, BP 230, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 2682 Ministry of Fishing and Maritime Economy, B.P. 137, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 4607, fax: +222 525 3146, e-mail: email@example.com, URL: http://www.mpem.mr/ Ministry of Finance, BP 238, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 1612, fax: +222 525 5110, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL: http://www.maed.gov.mr Ministry of Oil and Mines, B.P. 356, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 5252 688, fax: +222 525 2699 Ministry of the Interior, BP 195, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 2020, e-mail: email@example.com, URL: http://www.mipt.mr Ministry of Rural Development, Water Power and Environment, B.P. 366, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 1500, fax: +222 525 7475, URL: http://www.toptechnology.mr/sisaar Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, B.P. 177, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 5252 052, fax: +222 5252 268 Ministry of National Education, BP 387, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 1237, fax: +222 525 1222 Ministry of Rural Development, Water Power and Environment, BP 366, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 1500, fax: +222 525 7475, URL: http://www.toptechnology.mr/fr/index.html Ministry of Mines and Industry, BP 183, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 3337, fax: +222 525 3582, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Ministry of Justice, BP 350, Nouakchott. Tel: +222 525 1083, URL: http://www.mjustice.mr
In August 2005, a group of army officers overthrew the President and established a military council, the Military Council for Justice and Democracy, led by Colonel Ely Ould Mohammed Vall, former director of national security. As promised, presidential elections took place within two years, in March 2007; Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi won 53 per cent of the votes. The opposition leader, Ahmed Ould Daddah, won 47 per cent of the ballot. The elections were considered free and fair, and indicated the restoration of civilian rule after the 2005 coup.
Presidential elections took place on the 18th July 2009; the electoral commission proclaimed Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz the winner with 52 per cent of the vote, though there were allegations of vote rigging. International observers said the vote had been largely free and fair.
The most recent elections to the National Assembly were held in November 2006 and elections to the Senate took place the following January. Yahya ould Ahmed el Waghf, leader of the pro-presidential PNDD-ADIL (National Pact for Development and Democracy) party, was appointed Prime Minister by the President in May 2008. However, in response to a threatened no-confidence vote, el Waghf resigned with his entire Council of Ministers on 3 July. He was immediately reappointed, and his new government, entirely composed of members of the PNDD-ADIL, was appointed on 15 July 2008. On the 6th August, troops overthrew the government and formed a state council to rule the country.
Embassies of Mauretania
89 rue du Cherche Midi
75006 Paris, France
UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7478 9323
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania
116 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: +1 212 252 0113 / 0141
Fax: +1 212 252 0175
United States of America
Embassy of Mauritania
2129 Leroy Place
N.W., Washington, DC 20008
Tel: +1 202 232 5700
Fax: +1 202 319 2623
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.