Mauritania. From February until the end of April, students and other residents held several demonstrations in the capital Nouakchott against the government Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. They demanded reforms and felt that President Abdel Aziz had wielded too much power.
Inspired by the Arab Spring – the protests that took place in several Arab countries – the Mauritanian people used social media such as Facebook to inform and gather people. On April 25, the protesters carried out what they called a “day of anger” with protest actions in Nouakchott, among others. Then the police fired tear gas and batons at hundreds of young people demonstrating in the capital. According to Countryaah official site, the police arrested 22 people and prevented opposition MPs from participating in the campaign.
From May, people from the black part of the population demonstrated against a planned census, which they claimed to discriminate against blacks. There is an old ethnic conflict in Mauritania between the black African groups, which make up about one-third of the population, and the Moors, which include Arabs and make up the majority of the population. Blacks have much less political influence and have previously been discriminated against by the Moors.
At the end of September, a demonstrator was shot dead and 15 injured in the city of Maghama, near the Senegal border. A few days later, some 50 protesters were arrested in the capital. According to the protesters, the census made it more difficult for blacks than for Moors to prove that they are of Mauritian origin. According to the protesters, the blacks interviewed in the census were forced to speak a Moorish dialect and recite the Qur’an even though they are Christians. A black man was afraid that the census would lead to the same contradictions as 1989-90, when tens of thousands of black Mauritanian people were forced to flee Moors and Mauritanian soldiers and make their way to neighboring Senegal and Mali. The authorities rejected the criticism and assured that the census would not exclude anyone but give full rights to all citizens.
Local and parliamentary elections would have been held in October but postponed indefinitely at the request of the opposition, which criticized the authorities for not preparing the elections properly. According to the opposition, there were no electoral votes and there was no reliable registration authority or independent electoral commission. Eleven opposition parties warned that a choice in this situation would make the situation in the country even more unstable.