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.
According to 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.