Mauritania – Parliament reconvenes

On Monday, parliament in Mauritania held its first session since the coup in August. It was interesting because there was clear opposition to the ruling military regime. An opposition movement has been formed – the Front national pour la défense de la démocratie (FNDD). In the National Assembly, the opponents of the coup, including the president of the lower house, decided to boycott parliament. In the Senate, a number of the opponents decided to attend and, according to jeune afrique, the president of the Senate is said to have opened proceedings with some harsh words against the regime, although this is contested. For example, one text of his speech indicates no such criticism. In general, whereas the president of the National Assembly has been critical of the coup since it happened, the president of the Senate has been silent.

Of course, since the coup, Mauritania no longer has a semi-presidential constitution. The text of the constitutional decree establishing the High Council of State (military government) is available here. However, I will keep posting in anticipation of a return to democracy and, perhaps, semi-presidentialism at some stage in, hopefully, the near future. In the decree, there is the distinct impression that when democracy is restored it will be on the basis of a semi-presidential constitution once again. The military government is formally organising what it calls the Etats généraux de la démocratie, which may act as a sort of round-table talks prior to the restoration of democracy.

There is considerable international pressure on Mauritania to restart the democratic process and, notably, to free former President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, who is still under arrest.

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