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Mauritania's date palms, cultural heritage and means of survival
21 August 2012 - 'The palm tree is a means of survival,' said Tahya Mint Mohamed, a 44-year-old Mauritanian farmer and mother of three children. 'We eat its dates; we make mats, beds and chairs from palms; the leaves are also used to make baskets and to feed our livestock.' According to Mohamed Ould Ahmed Banane, who oversees monitoring and evaluation for the Oases Sustainable Development Programme (PDDO), nearly 20,000 people across the country depend on dates for their livelihood in five oasis regions. He estimates Mauritania's annual production of dates at 60,000 tonnes, to which is added a small amount of imports -- 1,000 tonnes from Algeria and 500 tonnes from Tunisia. Around 60 per cent of dates are eaten between June and August, during the Guetna (the Arabic name for the season when dates are harvested). The rest is dried for consumption throughout the year. Nutritionist Mohamed Baro said dates are rich in micronutrients like iron and calcium and are an excellent source of energy. (more)

Mauritania expects 2011-12 growth above 5 per cent
21 September 2011 - Mauritania's economy will grow by 5.1 per cent this year and this should accelerate to 5.7 per cent in 2012, thanks to expanding exports of gold, copper, iron ore, and oil, Mauritanian Central Bank Governor Sid'Ahmed Ould Raiss said on Wednesday. (more)

Mauritania plants trees to hold back desert
21 August 2010 - Mauritania has launched a tree-planting programme aimed at protecting its capital from the advancing desert and coastal erosion, a project that could eventually extend thousands of kilometres across Africa. President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Saturday planted the first of some 2 million trees that are meant to form a 'green belt' around the capital, Nouakchott. (more)

France normalizes Mauritania ties after coup, poll
26 October 2009 - The visit to France this week by Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz puts relations between the two countries back on track after the July elections, the French foreign ministry said on Monday. President Aziz is due to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner during the three-day trip. (more)

Africa finance chiefs vow transparency on investment
2 August 2008 - African members of the International Monetary Fund pledged greater transparency in their dealings with China and other new investors leading a tide of money flowing into the continent, the African Caucus said in a statement on Friday. 'It's good news that there are new sources of financing, but we have to be very careful in order that this new financial help does not destroy the original policies of the Bretton Woods institutions that aim to cancel debt,' IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told Reuters in an interview during the meeting. While welcoming the new money, the African leaders stressed the importance of developing local skills and industries beyond the simple extraction and export of raw materials. (more)

Mauritania: Aid may boost economic recovery
2 February 2008 - More than $2 billion in donor aid pledged in December should help Mauritania's economy grow by more than 4.5 per cent this year as it emerges from a slowdown in 2007, the IMF said on Friday. (more)

Mauritania refugees return home after long exile
30 January 2008 - The first of thousands of black Mauritanian refugees returned home from exile in Senegal on Tuesday, nearly two decades after they fled their Arab-dominated Saharan nation. (more)

Talks begin on how to develop Mauritania's growing economy
28 January 2008 - World Bank President Robert Zoellick arrived in Mauritania on Sunday for talks on how to develop the west African nation's growing economy and ease widespread poverty there. Despite conflicts and instability across much of the continent, Africa has in recent years enjoyed its best economic growth in decades. (more)

International donors raise $2.104 billion for Mauritania's development
6 December 2007 - International donors promised $2.104 billion to finance Mauritania's development plan at a conference in Paris this week, the World Bank said in a statement on Thursday. (more)

Deal paves way home for Mauritanian refugees
12 November 2007 - Thousands of Mauritanian refugees in Senegal could soon go home, nearly 20 years after they fled, under a deal signed on Monday by the two West African neighbours and the UN refugee agency UNHCR. The Senegalese and Mauritanian interior ministers and UNHCR agreed to run a repatriation programme lasting until December 2008, starting with a first group of 1,000 returnees in the coming weeks. (more)

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Mauritania: Anti-slavery law still tough to enforce
11 December 2012 - Dozens of slaves have escaped or been liberated since slavery was finally criminalized in Mauritania in 2007, but thus far just one slave-owner has been convicted and imprisoned, according to anti-slavery campaigners. Non-profit SOS Esclaves said they are presented with between one and five cases per month. 'We have parents coming to search for their children, or other family members looking for their brothers, their cousins,' said the organization's president, Boubacar Messaoud. Since 2007 seven or eight cases have involved some kind of legal ramification, while dozens remain pending before the courts. But only one case thus far has ended with a conviction -- that of a slave-owner who was sentenced to two years in prison, but who was released after four months after paying 200,000 ouguiya (US$677). Slavery goes back centuries in Mauritania and slaves too often remain trapped in a mindset that to be owned is part of the natural order of things. Many, once free, struggle to survive given they have no possessions or education and must get by in a heavily stigmatized society. (more)

Mauritania says cuts diplomatic ties with Israel
21 March 2010 - Mauritania has fully severed diplomatic ties with Israel, the northwest African country's foreign minister said late on Saturday, completing a process that began last year. Mauritania, an Islamic nation that straddles black and Arab Africa, has stopped 'completely and definitely its diplomatic relations with Israel,' Naha Mint Mouknass said in the desert capital Nouakchott. At one time it was one of only three Arab countries to have full diplomatic relations with Israel, but in March last year Mauritania expelled Israeli representatives and closed the Jewish state's embassy in Nouakchott. The move came after it froze ties in response to Israel's attacks on Gaza. (more)

Mauritania coup chief wins vote amid fraud claims
20 July 2009 - Nearly a year after seizing power in a military putsch that ousted Mauritania's first freely elected leader, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz won the presidency Sunday in a landslide vote his opponents decried as a fraudulent 'electoral coup'. The poll was officially held to restore civilian rule, but critics say little is likely to change in this moderate Islamic republic on the western edge of the sand-swept Sahara: Power will remain in the hands of the 52-year-old retired general who spent his life in the military and resigned only to legitimize his grasp on it by running for President. Mauritania has suffered five coups since independence from France in 1960, and has been led by military rulers for most of the past three decades. (more)

Amnesty says torture routine in Mauritania
3 December 2008 - Mauritanian security forces routinely torture detainees, and this has increased since a military coup in August, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The human rights watchdog issued a report entitled 'Torture At The Heart Of The State' which accused Mauritanian authorities of employing torture as their only method of investigation. The Saharan Islamic state has been a Western ally in the fight against al Qaeda. The US, France and the World Bank suspended some non-humanitarian aid to Mauritania after the coup, but Washington has signaled it would be willing to help against a specific terrorism threat, should this situation occur. Amnesty said members of the security forces used torture in the knowledge they would be backed by judicial authorities.'Judges almost invariably regard as admissible evidence statements extracted under torture and use these 'confessions' to convict defendants, often in the absence of any other material proof,' the report said. (more)

Mauritanian forces suppress anti-junta protest
6 October 2008 - Mauritanian security forces beat and fired tear gas at opponents of the ruling military junta on Sunday when they defied a government ban on street demonstrations, Reuters witnesses said. Scores of supporters of ousted President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, who has been under house arrest since military chiefs ousted him in August, gathered near Nouakchott's main hospital and tried to block roads using cars emblazoned with his portrait. The protest came ahead of Monday's deadline, set by the African Union, for the junta to release President Abdallahi from detention or face possible sanctions from the continental bloc, which has already suspended Mauritania over the coup. It is unclear what sanctions the AU would impose, especially as several of its members in the region have given their tacit approval to the coup. (more)

US may cut more aid over Mauritania coup - envoy
16 August 2008 - The United States threatened more cuts in aid to Mauritania on Friday if the country's new military rulers did not reinstate its first freely elected president. Mr Todd Moss, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said the $25 million in US aid that Washington had already suspended for this year was just the start. The Aug. 6 coup provoked virtually unanimous condemnation from the United Nations, the European Union, and other quarters. The African Union suspended the Islamic republic and the United States and France quickly suspended non-humanitarian aid. (more)

Mauritania forces stage coup after officers sacked
6 August 2008 - Presidential guardsmen seized Mauritanian President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi in a coup on Wednesday after he sacked several top army officers, and announced that he had been deposed. A Presidency official said the President, Prime Minister, and Interior Minister had been arrested and taken to an unknown destination. President Abdallahi replaced one government in May following criticism over the government's response to soaring food prices and to attacks over the last year carried out by al Qaeda's north African arm, but the new government resigned last month in the face of a proposed no-confidence vote. (more)

Mauritania gripped by another coup -Timeline
6 August 2008 - Presidential guardsmen seized Mauritanian President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi in a coup on Wednesday after he sacked several top army officers, the President's daughter said. Following is a chronology of events in the largely desert Mauritania since independence. (more)

Land mines still buried in Mauritania
19 December 2007 - Officials in Mauritania need about US$14 million to help clear land mines buried beneath the desert, relics of a brutal desert war over the Western Sahara territory in the 1970s. According to mapping conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in conjunction with the newly formed national demining agency, at least 60 communities in Mauritania are affected by mines. (more)

Mauritania becoming drug transit point
18 August 2007 - West Africa is emerging as a major hub for Colombian cocaine bound for Europe, where street prices are much higher than in the United States, and Mauritania has become an important transit point for the illegal drugs. (more)


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