News

    Pro-Democracy Forces Demonstrate in Mauritania

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Thousands of Mauritanians called for the return of the country's toppled civilian president in the biggest pro-democracy rally since last August's military coup. Mauritania's military rulers lifted a ban on demonstrations ahead of a meeting in Paris Friday with European and African leaders.

    Parliament Speaker Messoude Ould Boulkhaire told the rally that military ruler General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz will never be president of Mauritania because soldiers have failed the country for more than three decades.

    Boulkhaire rejected the general's plans for new elections in June, saying the only acceptable way forward is the return to power of toppled civilian President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdellahi. The nation's first freely-elected leader was overthrown when he tried to fire General Aziz last August.

    The general says restoring President Abdellahi now would not serve the greater interests of the Mauritanian people. So he wants to change the constitution to allow soldiers to run for office because he says that best reflects what he calls Mauritania's new political and cultural reality. General Aziz is widely expected to run for president in June but has not publicly announced his candidacy.

    The African Union (AU) has suspended Mauritania and placed a travel ban on civilian and military members of its ruling council.

    The secretary general of the ruling council, Colonel Ahmedou Bemba Ould Baye says the path the military has chosen for Mauritania is irreversible. He says AU sanctions not only fail to recognize what he says are the positive developments since last year's coup but also the military's willingness to work toward a return to constitutional order.

    While the military says it has the resources to weather tougher sanctions, it is moving to avoid a broader embargo following the suspension of most assistance from the World Bank and former-colonial-power France. The United States is blocking $15 million in military cooperation, more than $4 million in peacekeeping training, and $3 million in development assistance.

    Part of the military government's strategy to avoid tougher international action appears to include allowing Thursday's rally, the first since public demonstrations were banned shortly after the coup. A press release from the Nouakchott district governor's office says it may end the ban that was introduced by the military for security reasons.

    The decision comes a day before Friday's meeting in Paris between the African Union, the European Union, and representatives of both the toppled civilian government and the current military regime.

    Protest organizer Abdel Koudousse Ebeidna says pro-democracy activists want the international community to isolate Mauritiania's military rulers until they agree to restore President Abdellahi to power. 

    "What we ask from the international community is just to apply what has been written in the treaties. And that is all. Really, we are not asking more. Just to respect democracy and the wish of the people. And you can see clearly today that the people refuse the coup," he said.

     

    The U.S. State Department says attempts to silence President Abdellahi and the military's plans to hold unconstitutional elections in June violate democratic norms.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.