At least 28 unemployed graduates have been arrested in Nouakchott, where for three days, along with other young people, they had been participating in a sit-in to clamor for “a job” and “better life”. On Sunday, a group of demonstrators managed to enter the presidential premises to better express his protest. Sources close to the demonstrators cited by international agencies have denounced the action “vigorously” while police have arrested dozens of youth, moved to a nearby police station, while another group of demonstrators were dispersed by force.
From the few official information available, unemployment in Mauritania is estimated at 30%, affecting especially youth in particular. For weeks, the University of Nouakchott has seen many studentds protesting and demanding better studying conditions of study, particularly the payment of allowances and subsidies.
Yesterday alone, there were nine rallies in Nouakchott held simultaneously in as many administrative districts, the ‘Moughataas’; youth chanted such slogans as ‘Aziz way’. The initiative was launched by the ‘Coordination of the democratic opposition’ (COD), bringing together more than 12 parties. At the end of the marches, the protagonists have read a motion calling for the resignation of President Ould Abdel Aziz, author of the coup of 2008, elected the following year to the direction of the country.
The participants also condemned the continuing deterioration of Mauritanians’ purchasing power, the ‘improvised’ management style adopted by government, the “organized looting of resources” and “destructive populism” of which Ould Abdel Aziz has been responsible. The president was also accused of “ingrained racism” and “confiscation of freedom” as well as being the cause of a “total political block” says the website ’Al Akhbar’ in its coverage of yesterday’s protests.
Earlier this month, a sit-in against the amendments of the constitution launched in late December, was forcibly dispersed as it was considered “illegal” by the ‘COD’ and the 25 February youth movement. Recently, the general population census initiated by the authorities, was also contested because it has been deemed ”discriminatory” against Negro-Mauritanian communities.