Mauritania. In January, the government banned the
manufacture and use of plastic bags. Over 70% of the deaths
of cattle and sheep in the capital Nouakchott are due to the
fact that the animals have eaten plastic bags. The plastic
bags also make up a quarter of all the city's garbage,
according to official data. Those who manufacture, import or
use plastic bags risk fines or up to one year in prison.
Several other countries in the world have banned plastic
bags for environmental reasons.
Countryaah, hundreds of people, mostly women from, among others, a
human rights organization and a feminist association,
demonstrated in early April in Nouakchott against the rising
violence against women reported recently. A few days
earlier, a 20-year-old woman had been abducted, raped and
murdered by a group of men. The protesters demanded harsh
punishment for the perpetrators.
On November 23, parliamentary and local elections were
held for the first time since 2006. The authorities had
first announced elections for October, but they were
postponed because the opposition alliance COD (Coordinated
Democratic Opposition) had threatened boycott. The reason
was that President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who took power
in a coup in 2008, had not resigned, which the COD demanded
he do well in advance of the election for a transitional
government to be held in power.
In September, the government and COD had a dialogue in
which they were said to have agreed on how the elections
would be conducted, but dissatisfaction with the government
and the elections continued. In early November, thousands of
Mauritania's on the streets of Nouakchott demonstrated
against the planned parliamentary elections, which they
thought were meaningless.
Ten of the eleven parties included in the COD boycotted
the elections, which they considered a "election mask". The
only party that reported candidates was the Islamist party
Tewassoulom, who said it was a fight against a
"dictatorship". In total, the eligible voters had 1,500
candidates from 74 parties to choose from. The elections
were for 147 seats in parliament and 218 members for local
councils. Abdel Aziz's Union Party for the Republic was
expected to retain power. A second round of elections would
be held on December 7.