Mauritania raises wages by 600%

Mauritania has raised its minimum wage by more than 600% - the latest in a series of measures aimed at preventing further trouble after three coup attempts.

    Analysts say the increase is to stave off further coup attempts

    The Horizon newspaper on Tuesday said the minimum wage would go up to 21,000 ouguiyas ($81) a month from 3412 ouguiyas after negotiations between the government and the West African country's employers' association.

    Private media commentators said the extra money would most likely come from the country's newly-found oil riches.

    Analysts said the unprecedented rise was due to the "Hananna effect" – a reference to the three attempted coups in less than two years.

    Coup leader

    Former army officer Salih Walad Hananna, on trial along with more than 190 other suspects, has accused the government during his court appearances of not doing enough to help Mauritania's people.

    Earlier this month the government of President Muawiya Walad Taya, who has ruled since 1984, announced a monthly, non-taxable bonus of about $30 for civil servants while several barracks in the capital Nouakchott are being refurbished.
       
    Dissident soldiers came close to toppling Taya in June 2003 during two days of street fighting in Nouakchott before loyalist forces regained control.

    The government says it foiled two more coup attempts in 2004.
       
    Mauritania - one of only three Arab League member states to have full relations with Israel after a pro-American diplomatic shift by Taya - hopes to get rich from the recent discovery of off-shore oil, due to come on stream by the end of the year. 
      
    The Horizon newspaper said employers and unions were urging oil companies drilling in the country - and particularly Australia's Woodside Petroleum - to build training centres for their workforces. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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