Wide Angle

Mauritania’s new president restores links with the country’s opponents exiled in Morocco

Months after Mauritania elected a new president, the country launched a reconciliation process with political opponents exiled abroad, including those who took refuge in Morocco. The matter had already caused a diplomatic crisis between Rabat and Nouakchott, during the second term of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and Mohamed Ould Ghazouani. / DR
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Mauritania is trying to turn the page on the crisis regarding its exiled political opponents. On Friday, Mauritania’s Prime Minister Ismail Ould Bedde Ould Cheikh Sidiya handed Mauritanian businessman Mohamed Ould Bouamattou an award for the projects he launched in the country.

«The award was given to businessman Aziz Ould Em Mami who attended the event on behalf of Bouamattou», wrote Mauritanian newspaper Mauriweb. «The ceremony presided by the Mauritanian Prime Minister was preceded by the withdrawal of a complaint lodged against [Bouamattou] by NGOs manipulated by the former regime», wrote the same source, referring to former Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Ould Bouamattou, who left Mauritania in 2013 over a conflict with the former Mauritanian president, was awarded by his home country in 2010. Despite receiving this award, Mohamed Ould Bouamattou can only return to his country when the complaints against him are fully withdrawn.

Mauritanian opponents settled in Morocco

But the new policy adopted by the Mauritania’s president may secure Bouamattou’s return. Since his election, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani has «engaged in a new political consensus to resolve the country's problems and establish new rules to secure real freedom for Mauritanians», the same source added.

This new climate wanted by Ould Ghazouani was confirmed by the return, a few days ago, of Ahmed Baba Ould Azizi. The latter, who served as the former president of the National Union of Mauritanian Employers (UNEM) and who is also a businessman, was exiled to Morocco for two years because of his differences with Ould Abdel Aziz. Ahmed Baba Ould Azizi was even elected, in 2017 in Casablanca, as the head of the Maghreb Employers' Union (UME), recalls the Mauritanian newspaper Essahraa.

The reconciliation wave may also include Mustapha Lamam Ould Chafii. The former adviser to ex-Burkinabé President Blaise Compaoré, an expert on terrorist groups in the Sahel who was also exiled to Morocco.

Moreover, after Ould Bouamattou's departure from Morocco, the Mauritanian ex-president made no secret of his desire to see Ould Chafii, against whom he had launched in 2011 an international arrest warrant that forced him to settled down in the Kingdom.

While Morocco and Mauritania have turned the page on the diplomatic cold that marked their relations during the first and second presidential terms of Ould Abdel Aziz, the process launched by Ould Ghazouani can only put an end to tensions surrounding these opponents.

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