Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mauritania...on Africa's Mind...

That northwest african country of Mauritania has been in the news off-late, for the simple fact that it was holding elections in late March, but it's in today's brief because today, as per news reports ,it was re-admitted to the African Union, after having been expelled from the Pan-African body in 2005, when it staged a coup.

The re-entry is a testament to the fully democratic elections it underwent in March, with a 69-yr-old "former political prisoner, backed by a coalition of 18 groups previously loyal to the regime of ousted leader Maaoya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya" winning 53 percent of the vote.

According to the Africasia website

"Mauritania is readmitted to the AU with full rights," said Assane Ba at AU headquarters.

In a statement, the AU Peace and Security Council said it had decided "to lift the suspension measure taken against Mauritania" on August 4, 2005 when the military overturned the regime of Maaouiya Ould Taya

In December 2000, Mauritania also withdrew from the West african sub-regional grouping of ECOWAS, possibly prompting speculation that it did not see itself as comprehensively West African. In so many ways, you cannot blame it, for it belongs, and probably feels more affinity towards, the Arab Maghreb Union (which default language for their website is French:

Either way, an interesting food-for-though article in Middle East Online maintains the Mauritanian experience is relevant for two reasons:

in the way the military relates to the political regime, and in the way countries that are at the periphery of the Arab regional system are conducting their affairs. Contrary to conventional wisdom in the Arab world, the Mauritanian accomplishment proves that the military can be a force for democracy. Also contrary to conventional wisdom, it seems that peripheral countries can be more progressive in their outlook than core countries.

Just for that quote, which I have put in bold, about the military being a force for democracy, I can seriously concede Mauritania is far from being West African!

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