Mauritania looking up

Voters in the West African country of Mauritania overwhelmingly approved a new constitution for their country this past weekend, less than a year after a bloodless military coup gave the boot to two decades of autocratic rule.  Under the watchful (and approving) eyes of African Union and Arab League observers, 80-90% of those who cast ...

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608146_mauritania.thumbnail5.gif

Voters in the West African country of Mauritania overwhelmingly approved a new constitution for their country this past weekend, less than a year after a bloodless military coup gave the boot to two decades of autocratic rule. 

Under the watchful (and approving) eyes of African Union and Arab League observers, 80-90% of those who cast ballots favored the new constitution. Among the provisions of the document are a timetable for elections, presidential term and age limits, and the requirement that future heads of state swear an oath not to try to extend their term of office beyond that constitutionally permissible.  

With economic growth a solid 5.5% last year and the territorial dispute with Western Sahara dormant for the time being, things could be looking up for Mauritania. And in a country where 20% of the population unemployed, a little stability could go a long way. Next issue on the national agenda: slavery. Rights groups say it's still practiced, despite being abolished in 1981.

Voters in the West African country of Mauritania overwhelmingly approved a new constitution for their country this past weekend, less than a year after a bloodless military coup gave the boot to two decades of autocratic rule. 

Under the watchful (and approving) eyes of African Union and Arab League observers, 80-90% of those who cast ballots favored the new constitution. Among the provisions of the document are a timetable for elections, presidential term and age limits, and the requirement that future heads of state swear an oath not to try to extend their term of office beyond that constitutionally permissible.  

With economic growth a solid 5.5% last year and the territorial dispute with Western Sahara dormant for the time being, things could be looking up for Mauritania. And in a country where 20% of the population unemployed, a little stability could go a long way. Next issue on the national agenda: slavery. Rights groups say it’s still practiced, despite being abolished in 1981.

Ben Fryer is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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