Facebook inspired protest
Like in some other countries Facebook plays a significant role in the protests and uprising against the government of Mauritania. On February 26 at least a thousand people, mostly students, took to the streets of Nouakchott to organise a sit-in. They demanded political reforms and the departure of the president.
According to Reuters the social network Facebook inspired many youngsters to join in de demonstrations. "The president has to respect his people. Aziz has always said he's the president of the poor; now the poor are in front of you asking for dialogue," says Mocktar Mohammed Mahmoud, a social worker who explains also got involved through Facebook.
The first clear signal of dissatisfaction with the government’s policies happened in January. In front of the Senate, near to the presidency, a 42 year old man set himself alight inside his vehicle. He told journalists he was 'unhappy with the political situation in the country and angry with the government'.
Mauritanian police has oppressed a peaceful pro-democracy demonstration which was organised via Facebook by Mauritanian youth in the capital Nouakchott. Meanwhile, health workers have announced a new strike.
By Seyid Ould Seyid, Mauritania
Young leaders have been severely beaten by dozens of policemen. Some 200 demonstrators have been dispersed by force and 30 were arrested fort further investigation. One leader was beaten so severely he remains in coma. Protesters collectively chanted their slogans, calling for justice, freedom and urgent social reforms.
The mayor of the city of Awjeft, Mohamed El Moctar Ould Ehmeyen Amar, resigned from the ruling party to politically support what he called ’the just cause of youngsters'. The government has failed in meeting youth legitimate demands as it has opted for oppression in uncivilized manner” , the mayor told RNW.
A leader of the 'Initiative Challenge Youth', Cheikh Ould Haroune, told RNW that one officer has asked them to stop demonstrating because the government was already listening to their demands. "But when they saw that the number of protesters had doubled in two weeks, they decided to silence us by force."
"It was a choking experience to be oppressed for a peaceful protest. We're just exercising our constitutional rights. It seems that we have gone too far to get our voiceless voice heard which made the regime decide to react violently", added Cheikh.
Speaker of the youth initiative Ahmed Salem Ould Zouber said the protesters came from all social walks, requesting their rights as young citizens and dreaming of better a life since their first protests of February 25.
"We are peaceful demonstrators but it is the policemen who are not peaceful at all. We will continue our protests until our demands are satisfied, otherwise we will definitely come up with different strategy in due time", Ahmed Salem told RNW.
The protesters coordinated their demonstration without the help of political parties or trade unions. They repeated that Mauritania's stagnant situation is motivation enough for all kind of protest.
This is the first time Mauritanian authorities used force to oppress demonstrations before the protests got out of control.
Medics on strike
Mauritanian health workers have announced a national open strike on April 7th if the government continues to ignore their demands. Health workers have been seeking financial compensation for the risks they run in their daily job and a travel allowance for over two years.
"There's a severe lack of supplies to protect medical staff, like gloves and other items. We have lost a doctor and a medical assistant who were not adequately protected while working in state hospitals ", said one of the coordinators.
"It seems that the government is just delaying time when it comes to our pending demands", added the coordination.
The announced strike is a reaction to a Ministry of Health declaration made in the Mauritanian assembly describing the allowance as an 'expensive burden on the state's shoulders'. Medical workers represent 70 % of Mauritania's public health sector.