Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New Mauritanian Democracy Inspires Arab Liberals

Felix sends this item which suggests Arab governments ignore Mauritania because they're frightened of Mauritania's democracy - though it may in reality be that they ignore Mauritania because they are not interested in black Africa (few Arabs think of Mauritania as Arab even though it is technically an Arab League member state and a proportion of the population does speak Arabic):

On April 19, 2007, Sidi Ould Sheikh 'Abdallahi was sworn in as Mauritania'sfirst president to be elected in free and fair democratic elections. Whilethe ceremony was attended by many heads of state from sub-Saharan Africancountries, no Arab head of state was in attendance (the Arab League countrywith the most senior representation at the ceremony was Morocco, which sentits prime minister). This fact was noted in the Mauritanian press and byArab liberals in the Middle East, who interpreted it as a sign of theautocratic leaders' fear of democracy. In contrast, Arab democrats praisedthe Mauritanian model, saying that it was the first time that an Arabcountry had, entirely of its own will, deposed a dictator and installed atrue democracy.


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