The IWW is a presidential republic, the Constitution of 1991 is in force. Administratively, the country is divided into 12 regions: Adrar, Asaba, Brakna, Gidimaka, Gorgol, Dakhlet-Nuadhibu, Inshiri, Tagant, Tiris-Zemmour, Trarza, Hod al-Gharbi, Hod- ash-Sharqi; autonomous metropolitan area – on the rights of the region; 53 districts; 208 communes are local self-government bodies. Large cities: Nouakchott, Nouadhibou (76.1 thousand people, 2001), Kaedi (51.6 thousand). Check cancermatters for political system of Mauritania.
The highest legislative body is the parliament. Consists of two chambers. The upper house is the Senate. The lower one is the National Assembly. Executive power is vested in the head of state and the cabinet, or council of ministers. The head of state is the President (since 1992 he has been Maauya Ould Sidi Ahmed Taya). He is elected by direct universal suffrage for a term of 6 years and can be repeatedly re-elected. Has the prerogative to appoint the head of government.
Chairman of the Senate – Bubu Farba Dieng (since April 1992; in 1996 and October 2001 re-elected to this post).
Chairman of the National Assembly – Rashid Ould Salek (since October 2001).
The Prime Minister is Sheikh al-Alawiya Ould Mohammed Huna (the last government was formed in August 2002).
Moktar Ould Dadda (born 1924) – President of Mauritania (1961-78), leader of the ruling PMN. Participated in the drafting of the first Constitution. He was re-elected three times to the presidency, each time for a term of 5 years. At the same time he was the head of government and the supreme commander of the Armed Forces. In August 1975, at the VII Congress of the PMN, he was proclaimed the “father” of the nation.
In July 1978, a military coup d’etat took place in the country and Ould Dadda was arrested. Released later. He emigrated to France, where he stayed for 23 years. In July 2001 he returned to his homeland. Opposition parties welcomed his return. And although Ould Dadda said that he would not participate in the public life of the country, his arrival was perceived by political forces as an incentive to step up action.
Maawya Ould Sidi Ahmed Taya (born 1943), colonel. From July 1978 to March 1984 – Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense; from March to December 1984 – Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces. From December 12, 1984 – head of state, chairman of the All-Union Congress. He was re-elected to this post in 1987. In accordance with the Constitution of 1991, when the presidential form of government was established, he was elected to the post of president as a result of elections in 1992 and 1997. At the same time, he was the leader of the ruling Republican Social Democratic Party (RSDP, founded in 1991).
Abdallah Ould Ahmed (born 1940), political and military (military rank – colonel) figure, diplomat, economist. From July 1978 – member of the VKNV (since April 1979 – VKNS); in 1980-88 he was a permanent member of the All-Union Congress. In 1979-80 he was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. From July 1982 to March 1984 – Minister of the Interior. In 1984 – commander of the Zuerat military district. From December 1984 to May 1985 – Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. Since 1985 – in the UN system. Since 1990 – member of the UN Secretariat, special coordinator for the problems of new and renewable energy sources. From November 1993 to October 1995 – UN Special Representative in Burundi. In December 1996, in the election of the UN Secretary General, he was a candidate from African countries.
Muhammed Huna Ould Heydalla (born 1940), lieutenant colonel; in 1980-84 – chairman of the All-Union Congress.
Regions are headed by governors, districts by prefects, and communes are formed by municipal elections.
There is a multi-party system. There are 20 officially registered political parties and associations of different directions. Most influential: Republican Social Democratic Party; Mauritanian Renaissance Party; Unity for Democracy and Unity.
The Workers’ Union of Mauritania (STM) is a single nationwide trade union center (founded in 1961 with about 45,000 members). Member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. The General Secretary of the STM is Mohammed Brahim.
The main tasks of the country’s leadership in the field of domestic policy are the strict observance of the current legislation in order to restore the population’s confidence in state institutions and the psychological restructuring of the consciousness of the vast majority of the population, aimed at developing a new, public attitude to domestic political life. These tasks were envisaged to be solved within the framework of the “structures for educating the masses”, which developed a program of action in the political, economic and cultural fields. However, the political situation remained tense. The confrontation between white-skinned and black-skinned Mauritanians remained; Moors and Negro-Africans; free and former and remaining in slavery citizens of the country. The opposition was formed among the Moors and Negro-Africans and was represented by conservative Islamist groups, organizations for the rights of black Africans, various political parties. They held regular demonstrations, which were violently dispersed by the authorities. The authorities’ repression increased public opposition to the regime.
In foreign policy, the IWW adheres to the principles of non-alignment and advocates a peaceful political solution to the problem of Western Sahara. Emphasis is placed on strengthening ties with Western countries, primarily with the United States, NATO member countries and the EU, in particular, within the framework of the “Mediterranean dialogue” on military-political cooperation, in which the IWW has enjoyed observer status since 1994. Specifically, we are talking about the provision by these countries of military assistance to the IWW, the reorganization of its Armed Forces, incl. to fight Islamic terrorism.
The Middle East policy of the IWW changed radically. At the end of October 1999, following Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994), she established full diplomatic relations with Israel. This decision caused a mixed reaction in the Arab world, primarily from Iraq. In November 1999, the IWW severed diplomatic relations with him.
There has been an evolution in relations with neighbors. By demarcating the joint border, the border conflict with Mali was resolved. On the contrary, relations with Senegal have deteriorated. The reason (in June 2000, as in 1989) was the intention of Dakar to implement an irrigation project in the north of the country by filling the dried up riverbeds with water from the Senegal River, along which the border with the IWW passes. In protest, the Mauritanian side demanded that the Senegalese, who once settled on the territory of the IWW, leave the country in 15 days. This measure affected almost 100,000 Senegalese citizens, of which only 16,000 were officially registered. At the same time, fearing for their fate, Negro-Mauritanians (about 60 thousand people) began to return to their homeland in droves from Senegal.
The king of Morocco acted as an intermediary in the relations between the two countries. Recognizing the relationship of good neighborliness and strong friendship between the IWW and Morocco, he called on both sides “to restraint” and recommended that they “give preference to dialogue and cooperation.” Under these conditions, the IWW took a course towards strengthening relations with the countries of the Maghreb, primarily with Morocco, as well as Algeria, incl. within the Union of the Arab Maghreb.
Of the countries of the former “socialist camp”, the relations of the IWW with the PRC developed most favorably. In 2000-01 a number of Chinese statesmen and politicians visited the country. During the talks, mutual satisfaction was expressed with the progressive development of relations between the two countries and hope for the comprehensive strengthening of these relations.
The total strength of the Armed Forces (2000) – approx. 20 thousand people plus 20 thousand reservists. Permanent paramilitary militias – ca. 5 thousand people Ground forces – 15 thousand people, Air Force – 150 people, Navy – approx. 500 people
Mauritania has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR in 1964).