Mauritania. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Mauritania include Independence Day (November 28) and New Year (January 1). An overwhelming majority of the population voted in June for a new constitution that many hope will end the countless coups that have affected Mauritania since independence in 1960. The referendum, where participation was large, was the first of several elections planned by the military junta which took power in the country in a bloody coup in August 2005. The proposed reforms were aimed at reducing the president’s power. In the future, a president would be allowed a maximum of two terms of office for each of five years. It would also be more difficult for future presidents to change the constitution.
The parliamentary elections, which were held on two occasions in November – December, meant a victory for the former opposition. According to the preliminary results presented in December, 41 of the 95 parliamentary seats went to an alliance of eleven former opposition parties, while the former government (Republican Democratic and Socialist Party) was expected to get 23. No party seemed to have its own majority. The new parliament would gather after the presidential election scheduled for March 2007. According to international election observers, the parliamentary elections were free and fair.
Mauritania started producing oil at the beginning of the year. The oil is extracted from Chinguetti off the Atlantic coast. Production was expected to reach 75,000 barrels per day over the next nine years and is an important addition to the poor Mauritania.
In June, another positive economic message came when the International Monetary Fund decided to write off all the country’s debts, a total of about two billion dollars.
Mauritania has become a new shipping port for Africans trying to escape to Europe via the Canary Islands. The reason is that checks have become tougher in Morocco, which used to be the most important starting point for emigrants. Tens of thousands of Africans go out in small boats every year to get to Europe, many drown on the road. Prime Minister Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar appealed for help from the outside world. The Spanish government quickly sent a delegation to Mauritania to discuss the problem and also promised to take patrol flights to guard Mauritania’s 75-mile border along the Atlantic.
About 300,000 children were threatened by starvation in the Sahel area, which is among other things Mauritania. Although the harvest in 2006 was quite good, chronic food shortages prevailed due to three decades of drought. The UN had a hard time getting the $ 100 million that it had pledged to save the children.