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Agreement in Mauritania?

June 3, 2009

The French-backed Senegalese mediation in the Mauritanian crisis came through, it seems, and both the RFD and the FNDD anti-coup front have signed an agreement with the junta. If this solution sticks, and the opposition accepts the holding of new elections to replace the deposed president, Gen. Abdelaziz will have all but won their long power struggle, although there may be parts of the agreement we haven’t seen that dilute his victory. (Such as who gets appointed to what, and set timetables for future decisions, etc.)

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Mauritania’s rival political factions have agreed to postpone Saturday’s scheduled presidential election until July 18, officials said Tuesday.  … If no candidate wins a majority of votes in July’s election, a second round will be held Aug. 1.

And they will also add new candidates to the list? The RFD’s belated opposition seems to have been all about giving Ahmed ould Daddah another shot at the presidency, but now he claims to be happy with what has been agreed.

Tuesday‘s agreement calls for the formation of a 28-member transitional government. Aziz would have the right to appoint the prime minister and half the ministers, and rival parties the rest.

Not much of a concesssion from him, actually, since he also apparently gets to elect himself president, and power rests basically with the presidency. Were the opposition leaders all drugged in Dakar, or bribed, or what happened — it seems like there’s very little in return for their approval of the coup? Or am I misreading this? Clearly something sneaky is going on — among other things, the leader of the coup-before-the-last-one, Gen. Vall, just signed up as a candidate in the elections.

Our resident Mauritania-watchers are hereby invited to connect the dots.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. stamboul permalink
    June 3, 2009 17:19

    According to reports, the opposition, though controlling the Interior Ministry in advance of the elections, will have much more say in the running of the elections. That’s a significant change, suggesting they will be a lot more competitive than the June 6 vote would have been.

    “Not much of a concesssion from him, actually, since he also apparently gets to elect himself president”

    How so? Presumably more credible candidates will run this time. Aziz was a shoe-in beforeIt’s much less likely that Aziz will win; now it’s much less certain.

    “Were the opposition leaders all drugged in Dakar, or bribed, or what happened — it seems like there’s very little in return for their approval of the coup?”

    Everyone had long given up hope of Sidi ever being reinstated. The opposition seems to have instead picked a more realistic, achievable goal – a postponement of the elections, Waghef and others’ release, a symbolic handover by Sidi legitimising the elections and their own involvement in the run-up. The RND only ever cared about ensuring a fair run for Daddah at the Presidency anyway, they supported the coup and didn’t want Sidi back. Vall may be a more acceptable candidate, having not recently been active in the military, and may replace Aziz (just speculation, but it would seem odd if they both ran), which would address the issue about members of the military at the time of the coup running in the elections. Plus dealmaking and consensus rather than outright confrontation is often how things work in the region. Few people probably wanted a real confrontation, whcih was where things seem to be headed. Probably you are right that there is also some sort of behind-the-scenes shenanigans also going on. That and a nice-face saving deal for everyone that allows the possibility of a more genuine election was probably the best they could get, and they took it. Not that surprising I don’t think (with, of course, the benefit of hindsight – I thought the June 6 elections would go ahead).

  2. June 3, 2009 17:38

    If Abdelaziz intends to open for serious competition or even hands over the presidency to someone else, I agree that that is a big (huge) concession on his part. But it seems he’s still running, and I can’t imagine he would go through all this trouble just to lose in a fair election — not quite his style. If he’s running, he must be pretty certain of winning either fairly or unfairly.

    If there’s some sort of a deal on that makes him step back into the shadows (in favor of Vall or whomever), on the other hand, then it’s a different story, and I humbly retract my words.

    • tidinit permalink
      June 6, 2009 09:01

      Thanks alle for this piece and we will try to help understand what is going on in front and behind.One thing is certain: it is a French-baked deal and no doubt about that. With Aziz controling 50% of everything, in addition to a PM of his choice.The guy is lucky getting that piece of the deal after making a forbidden coup. More later as things evolve.

      The most interesting news is that Ban Ki-Moon representative for Somalia, Ahmedou ould Abdalla is probably running.If he is clever enough to set his election running fast, he can win. Why? The majority of the “intellectuals” will go with him and the Hodhs (Aioun et Nema) will go with him. You can’t win anything in the country if you do not have these two hodhs and the hodhs are ould Abdalla’s home.People may also be tired of having the presidency shifting between people from the south for so long: Adrar (Taya), Trarza (Moctar Ould Daddah and his hopeful brother Ahmed who has always been tricked by the military) and Inchiri-trarza (the two General-Colonel Aziz and Ely). Ould Abdalla will not play that regional/tribal game, but people are sick and tired of the irresponsible political class that is leading the country to nowhere. Moreover, they are all corrupt, according to the general impression of the street.

      • June 8, 2009 20:05

        Tidinit — That’s interesting. But do you think he has enough of a power base inside the country to successfully compete — especially now that Abdelaziz is holding the election after building his own base and controlling much of the country?

        I’d love to hear your comments on Ely’s run, btw.

  3. Tidinit permalink
    June 8, 2009 22:06

    Looks like Aziz is losing ground because Ely Ould Mohamed Vall is in and Sidi Ould Checikh Abdallahi seems to be refusing to move from Lemden to Nouakchott to sign off the constitution of the new Gouvernement d’Union Nationale composed for 50% of the people behind Aziz and 50% behind opposition. Sidi has requested 2 conditions to let it go:

    – Condition 1: the dismantling of the Haut Conseil d’Etat (HCE) that is composed only of the top brass close to Aziz (junta). Aziz accept it and he has no one to back him up. This means he will be dead politically as from one day to the other he becomes powerless like me and you;

    – Condition 2: to address the Mauritanian people from his old office at the presidential palace. Aziz will lose face in allowing so as he said all these months that Sidi will not sit there for a minute. Moreover, if Sidi is in the palace and as Aziz is on “leave of absence”, Sidi may not move and can take over.

    The worse is that we are informed yesterday that Ould Taya is said coming back from Qatar and running for election. Anyway, in this sharing business, the opposition got the key ministries: interior, finance, petrole, islamic affaires and some other ministries. People are wondering what is left for Aziz and his group. I think Aziz has been trapped and soon people will drop him. He is facing tough politicians and he cannot win over them at the election: Ahmed Ould Daddah, Ahmeddou Ould Abdallah, Ely Ould Mohamed Vall. The situation is very confusing and this week will be hot. Without his junta group, he will become an non entity soon. Aziz cannot do any more coup de force.

    Ould Abdallah may just get it if the election is fair. We have seen it happen when people are sick and tired of the old class. There is no certainty though. Things will be clearer tomorrow and the day after. Coups d’etat do not work anymore …

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