Mauritania | Multiparty Democracy and Economic Improvement
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Multiparty Democracy and Economic Improvement
In 1984, Col. Maaouye Ould Sidi Ahmed Taya took control of the government. He relaxed Islamic law, fought corruption, instituted economic reforms urged by the International Monetary Fund, and held the country's first multiparty parliamentary elections in 1986. Although the 1991 constitution set up a multiparty democracy, politics remain ethnically and racially based. The primary conflict is between blacks, who dominate the southern regions, and the Moorish-Arabic north, which holds political power. Racial tensions reached a peak in 1989 when Mauritania went to war with Senegal in a dispute over their shared border. As each country repatriated citizens of the other, critics accused Mauritania of taking the opportunity to expel thousands of blacks.
In 1992, Taya won the nation's first multiparty presidential election, which opponents charged was rigged. Taya's attempts to restructure the economy provoked periodic protests, the most serious of which were the bread riots in Nouakchott in 1995.