The Stream

Mauritania’s overlooked uprising

What happened to the February 25th Movement?

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Mauritania’s President (AP)

Uprisings across the Arab world have catapulted North Africa and the Middle East into the media spotlight. However, in neighboring Mauritania, activists are struggling to get their voices heard from both their government and global media.

On February 25, 2011, discontented Mauritanians organized massive protests across the country demanding a 28-point list of reforms from the government. They claim President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has either created or ignored Mauritania’s many social, economic, and political ills, which include widespread poverty (about 20 per cent of Mauritanians live on less than $1.25 per day), a drought crisis, unchecked slavery, and government corruption.

In an effort to appease protesters, the Mauritanian government convened several emergency sessions of parliament in January to discuss revisions to the constitution and its electoral laws.