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Mauritania opposition decries crackdown on ex-senators

Following controversial Aug. 15 referendum, government announced that Senate had been abolished

Mauritania opposition decries crackdown on ex-senators

By Mohamed al-Bakay


Fourteen opposition parties in Mauritania have denounced the dispering by police of a protest organized by a number of the dissolved Mauritanian Senate’s members in the capital Nouakchott.

In a written statement Friday, the National Forum for Democracy and Unity (FNDU) called on the mobilization for "the restoration of the democratic process to its rightful path and the imposition of peaceful and democratic change in the country".

The FNDU called to prevent “the current regime’s catastrophic policies”.

On Thursday, Mauritanian police dispersed by force a protest by a number of former senators.

A referendum in August had called for several constitutional changes such as abolishing the High Court of Justice; establishing a system of regional administrative councils; adopting a proportional system in national elections; changing Mauritania’s national flag; and instituting a unicameral -- rather than bicameral -- parliament.

In March, Mauritania’s senate had rejected these same proposed changes, prompting President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz to call for a public referendum on the issue, thus infuriating of opposition parties and lawmakers.

Following the controversial Aug. 15 referendum, which the opposition refused to recognize, the government announced that the Senate had been abolished

"The crackdown on the senators and the persistence of perusing them, as well as the union members, journalists and businessmen, the insistence on their imprisonment, the crackdown on the activities of political parties, the suppression of protests of the young and the wronged, are all indicators to a dangerous approach by the regime to continue kidnapping the country," the FNDU said in the statement.

Ould Abdel Aziz seized power in a 2008 military coup. One year later, he won a presidential election\ the integrity of which has been questioned by critics.

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