MAURITANIA : Between migration issues, regional diplomacy and internal tensions Spécial


Source : Sahel Weather

Download the full Sahel Weather report


Over the past two months, Mauritania has been in the spotlight both regionally and internationally. On the one hand, the European Union has announced 210 million euros in funding to help the country counter the flow of migrants to Europe, by stepping up the fight against smugglers and improving border security. This initiative comes at a time when Mauritania is facing an increasing flow of migrants and refugees, exacerbated by instability in the Sahel. 

On the other hand, Mauritania has been nominated to chair the African Union in 2024, a decision hailed as a compromise among North African countries, which have long struggled to find a common candidate due to regional rivalries. Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, Mauritania's current president, has been described as a man of consensus, bringing stability to a region marked by tensions. 

However, despite these diplomatic advances, internal political tensions persist, as demonstrated by the recent lifting of the parliamentary immunity of opposition MP Biram Dah Abeid. Indeed, the president of the opposition Union des forces du progrès (UFP) Mohamed O. Maouloud had filed a complaint for "defamation and slander" after B. Abeid had claimed that he had received a large sum of money from businessman Mohamed Ould Bouamatou, during the 2019 election campaign. This decision reflects the divisions within the opposition a few months ahead of the presidential election scheduled for June 2024. 

Finally, four police officers, including a commissioner, were sentenced to life imprisonment for torturing a human rights activist to death in a police station in Nouakchott in 2023. The convicts were found guilty of the crimes of torture resulting in death, unjustified use of torture and falsification of evidence. A fifth police officer was also sentenced to two years' imprisonment for attempting to conceal the crime. The prosecutor had initially requested the death penalty against the commissioner and two of his subordinates. The death of activist Souvi Ould Chene, which occurred after he had been summoned for a complaint of non-payment of a debt, provoked violent unrest and led to the closure of the offending police station. This ruling highlights a rare prosecution of senior civil servants in Mauritania for acts committed in the exercise of their duties.