CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.

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March 2022

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Diplomatic row erupted as govt accused Mali’s army of crimes against Mauritanians. Dozens of people 8 March demonstrated outside presidency in capital Nouakchott to protest reported disappearance in early March of Mauritanian citizens on Malian side of border south of Adel Bagrou town. Govt later same day said it had summoned Malian ambassador “to protest the recent criminal acts perpetrated by regular Malian forces against our defenceless and innocent citizens in Malian territory”. Bamako 9 March said there was “no proof” of Malian armed forces’ involvement but promised investigation into disappearances. Malian FM Abdoulaye Diop 11-12 March led high-level delegation to Nouakchott in bid to appease tensions; neighbours agreed to establish joint mission to investigate disappearances; delegation of Mauritanian experts 16 March arrived in Mali’s capital Bamako to take part in mission.

January 2020

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

At G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) meeting in France 13 Jan, President Ould Ghazouani and other G5 Sahel heads of state reiterated commitment to fighting terrorist groups and support for French military presence in region.

December 2019

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Tensions within ruling party Union for the Republic (UPR) increased as President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani and former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz competed for influence. Security forces late Nov arrested presidential guard commander and his deputy, both Abdel Aziz loyalists. Ghazouani won outright backing of ruling party during party congress in capital Nouakchott 28-29 Dec. Party delegates renewed all party’s governing bodies including National Council and entrusted them to Ghazouani’s close allies, and elected Ghazouani’s chosen candidate, Sidi Mohamed Ould Taleb Amar, as party president.

August 2019

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

In first peaceful transition since independence, newly-elected President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani took office 1 Aug.

July 2019

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Constitutional Council 1 July rejected opposition petition against 22 June presidential election results and confirmed ruling majority’s candidate Mohamed Ould Ghazouani as president. Police next day released unknown number of activists and opposition members it had arrested late June during protests against election outcome. Govt 3 July restored internet access after imposing blackout late June. Police 3 July arrested journalist Ahmedou Ould al-Wadea for unknown reasons, released him 15 July.

June 2019

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

In presidential election 22 June, defence minister and ruling majority’s candidate Mohamed El Ghazouani won absolute majority with 51.5% of vote. Opposition candidates said they saw “worrying signs” of election irregularities and would use “every legal means” to contest results.

May 2019

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Constitutional Council 12 May confirmed list of six candidates for 22 June presidential election. Over 100 people 15 May held sit-in in front of Nouakchott prison to call for release of two bloggers held since March on charges of defamation against president.

April 2019

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Govt 17 April said first round of presidential election will take place 22 June and possible run-off vote 6 July.

March 2019

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Ahead of presidential election planned for later this year, Defence Minister Mohamed El Ghazouani 1 March confirmed he would be ruling majority’s candidate. Leaders of opposition platform including National Forum for Democracy and Unity (FNDU) and Rally of Democratic Forces (RFD) 12 March failed to reach agreement on common candidate; 27 March called for dissolution of electoral commission and formation of new one with greater opposition representation. Former PM Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar 30 March said he would stand in presidential election as independent candidate, with support from opposition Islamist party Tewassoul.

February 2019

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Political manoeuvring continued ahead of presidential election planned for later this year. Opposition platform, including among National Forum for Democracy and Unity (FNDU) and Rally of Democratic Forces (RFD), continued consultations to agree on common candidate. In document submitted to govt early Feb, opposition demanded reform of electoral commission, audit of electoral register and national dialogue to ensure free and fair election.

January 2019

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President of ruling Union for the Republic (UPR) party and govt spokesperson 29 Jan said Defence Minister Mohamed El Ghazouani would be ruling majority’s candidate for 2019 presidential election. Anti-slavery campaigner and MP Biram Dah Abeid 30 Jan said he would run for president.

December 2018

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Anti-slavery campaigner and new MP Biram Dah Abeid in custody since early Aug released 31 Dec after authorities withdrew charges of slander.

November 2018

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Aziz 20 Nov said that he would not run for re-election in 2019, respecting constitution that limits number of presidential terms to two, but would run again as soon as constitution allows.

October 2018

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

During first session of National Assembly elected in Sept, police 8 Oct outside parliament building clashed with activists demanding release of anti-slavery campaigner and new MP Biram Dah Abeid in custody since early Aug, nine protesters reportedly injured. Following Sept legislative elections, PM Yahya Ould Hademine resigned 29 Oct. President Ould Abdel Aziz same day appointed Mohamed Salem Ould Bechir as new PM; new govt appointed 30 Oct, with army chief Mohamed Ould Ghazouani named defence minister and ruling Union for the Republic (UPR) party President Sidi Mohamed Ould Maham named govt spokesperson.

September 2018

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

In legislative elections 1 and 15 Sept, ruling party Union for the Republic (UPR) won majority in National Assembly with at least 89 seats out of 157. In simultaneous local elections, UPR won all thirteen regional councils. Court 3 Sept charged activist Abdallahi Salem Ould Yali, arrested in Jan for social media messages denouncing marginalisation of Haratin community, with incitement to violence and racial hatred.

August 2018

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Govt intensified crackdown on dissent ahead of 1 Sept legislative, regional and local elections. Prominent anti-slavery activist and candidate in legislative elections Biram Dah Abeid arrested 7 Aug, charged 13 Aug with “assault on life and integrity of the person” and “threats of violence” after journalist allegedly filed complaint against him. Another anti-slavery activist Abdellahi el Housein Mesoud arrested 9 Aug and charged with “complicity” in same case. Journalists Babacar Ndiaye and Mahmoudi Ould Saibout arrested 8 Aug after posting article critical of lawyer close to govt.

June 2018

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Govt 21 June confirmed plan to hold legislative and local elections 1 Sept. Opposition platform National Forum for Democracy and Unity mid-June appealed to Supreme Court for dissolution of electoral commission set up in April which excludes representatives of some opposition groups.

April 2018

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Opposition party National Forum for Democracy and Unity said it would contest legislative and municipal elections scheduled for Aug or Sept after previously boycotting votes.

October 2017

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

UN Security Council delegation 19 Oct visited to assess preparations for deployment of G5 Sahel joint force to counter Islamist militancy and trafficking in region; authorities have not identified battalion to join force nor sent liaison officer to Mopti, Mali. Following UN Security Council meeting on G5 Sahel joint force 30 Oct, U.S. Sec State Tillerson pledged up to $60mn to support force.

August 2017

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

In 5 Aug referendum 85% of voters agreed to abolish parliament’s upper house (Senate) and alter national flag; turnout was 53.73% following boycott by opposition.

July 2017

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Govt 12 July declared north-eastern border with Algeria and Mali military zone “absolutely prohibited to civilians” due to security threat posed by traffickers. Army mid-July stopped vehicle carrying weapons and ammunition near north-eastern border coming from Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. At summit of G5 Sahel (Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania) in Bamako 1-2 July, members each pledged €10mn to finance 5,000-strong joint military force to counter jihadism in region (see Mali). Police 26 July cracked down on demonstrators in capital Nouakchott protesting against referendum on constitution planned for 5 Aug, several wounded.

June 2017

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Council of ministers 8 June postponed referendum on constitution planned for 15 July until 5 Aug following proposal by electoral commission, due to low level of voter registration. African Union 3 June pledged support to efforts of Sahel G5 (Niger, Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso) against jihadism and EU 5 June promised €50mn to support G5 joint military force; UN Security Council 21 June adopted resolution endorsing G5 force but did not authorise use of force. Govt broke off ties with Qatar 6 June accusing it of supporting terrorism (see Qatar).

April 2017

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Govt 20 April said referendum on constitutional amendments that would replace parliament’s upper house with regional councils will take place 15 July.

March 2017

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

National assembly 9 March passed constitutional amendment that would replace parliament’s upper house with regional councils; Senators 17 March rejected amendment. President Ould Abdel Aziz 22 March said amendment will be put to referendum “as quickly as possible” to overcome impasse.

November 2016

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Appeals court 18 Nov overturned convictions of three anti-slavery activists and reduced jail terms of ten others accused of rioting after forced eviction of ethnic Haratin, many of them former slaves, in Nouakchott.

October 2016

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

National dialogue 20 Oct agreed to amend constitution, proposed changes include dissolving senate and establishing regional councils. President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz same day confirmed he will not seek third term.

August 2016

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Govt mid-Aug reportedly deployed short- and medium-range missiles at northern border with Western Sahara following Morocco’s deployment of gendarmes in area in anti-smuggling operation (see Western Sahara).

July 2016

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Authorities 29 June-3 July arrested at least nine anti-slavery activists following protest against forced eviction of ethnic Haratin, many former slaves, in Nouakchott by security forces. 23 people, including the nine activists, reportedly jailed 12 July for “assault against the police”, “incitement of violence and belonging to an unauthorised organisation”. Arab League summit held in Nouakchott for first time 25 July.

May 2016

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Supreme Court 17 May ordered release of high-profile human rights activists Biram Dah Abeid and Brahim Bilal Ramdhane who had been jailed for eighteen months, after deciding their offences warranted one year of imprisonment not two as originally sentenced. Abeid 18 May said he wants to run again for president.

April 2016

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Appeal court in SW Nouadhibou 21 April upheld death sentence for blogger Mohamed Mkhaitir convicted of apostasy Dec 2014, referred case to Supreme Court which can reduce sentence if it finds defendant repentant. Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders condemned ruling, called on court to repeal sentence. OHCHR 26 April deplored confirmation of sentence.

December 2015

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) 7 Dec released a video of Mauritanian and two Malian nationals allegedly confessing to spying for the French and Mauritanian military; all three executed. Govt 11 Dec called for establishment of courts specifically for slavery cases.

August 2015

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Authorities 6 Aug reportedly freed Malian Islamist militant and former Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Bouamama from detention despite international arrest warrant. New anti-slavery law adopted early Aug doubling prison terms for offenders.

June 2015

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Three convicted 17 June of belonging to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL), sentenced to five-to-ten years’ prison.

April 2015

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Court 21 April sentenced suspected al-Qaeda leader Younis al-Mauritani to twenty years’ prison for terrorist activities.

February 2015

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Govt 5 Feb announced senatorial elections planned for 15 March postponed in order to allow govt and opposition, which currently plans to boycott vote, time to negotiate acceptable timetable and conditions for polls. Hundreds protested 12 Feb calling for release of three anti-slavery activists arrested Nov 2014; activists 23 Feb began hunger strike to protest prison conditions, abuse.

January 2015

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Abdel-Aziz early Jan called for dialogue with opposition bloc National Forum for Democracy and Unity (FNDU). FNDU rejected call; govt 22 Jan said ruling party “not against” holding early elections, as requested by opposition. Thousands protested against Charlie Hebdo cartoons 16 Jan; Abdel-Aziz addressed protesters, said cartoon “attack on our religion and on all religious”. Three anti-slavery activists sentenced to two years’ prison 15 Jan; subsequent protests violently dispersed by police.

December 2014

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Govt ministers, military officials and other representatives 15 Dec met senior NATO officials in Nouakchott to discuss terrorism, illegal trafficking and other regional security issues.

November 2014

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Nine human rights and anti-slavery activists including Biram Dah Abeid, leader of Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, arrested 11 Nov near Rosso, jailed on charges of inciting violence, violating public order, offending authorities, belonging to unsanctioned organisation.

October 2014

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Security forces 12 Oct arrested four with suspected links to Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL) in town of Zouérate. Govt reportedly closed border with Mali late Oct to block spread of Ebola.

August 2014

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Mohamed Abdel Aziz sworn-in for second term 2 Aug; 2 members of youth opposition movement Kafana, including leader Jacob Ahmad, arrested by security forces 5 Aug over anti-Aziz graffiti.

June 2014

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz re-elected 21 June with 82% of vote, turnout reportedly 56%; election boycotted by most opposition parties. Runner-up Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid 24 June accused govt of fraud, filed appeal at constitutional council; council 29 June rejected appeal, confirmed Aziz’s victory. Former President Ely Ould Mohamed Vall 17 June urged non-recognition of “farcical” elections.

April 2014

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Abdel Aziz 23 April announced intention to stand for re-election in 21 June polls, despite continued opposition boycott.

March 2014

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Opposition parties Rally for Democratic Forces (RFD), Coordination for Democratic Opposition and Islamist party Tawassoul threatened boycott of July presidential elections.

January 2014

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Malian President IBK visited 12 Jan, signed agreement to boost military cooperation and information sharing in regional fight against terrorist and armed groups.

December 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Electoral commission 3 Dec announced results of legislative and municipal results held 23 Nov, said ruling party Union for the Republic (UPR) won landslide victory with 53 seats in national assembly; Islamist party Tawassoul came second with 12 seats. Thousands of Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) supporters protested 18 Dec in Nouakchott against “unilateral” elections.

November 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Legislative elections held 23 Nov with 60% turnout despite boycott by 10 parties belonging to Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD). Party of President Abdel Aziz, Union for the Republic, likely winner; formerly banned Islamist party Tawassoul expected to win seats and come in second place.

October 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Opposition coalition Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) 2 Oct suspended participation in first dialogue with govt in 4 years, but authorities 3 Oct said they will maintain 23 Nov date for legislative elections. 10 of 11 COD parties 4 Oct announced boycott but Islamist party Tawassoul and Union of Forces of Progress (UFP) 5 Oct said they will participate, prompting uncertainty over future of coalition.

September 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Ould Abdel Aziz 19 Sept announced cabinet reshuffle, appointed 6 new ministers. UNHCR envoy Athar Sultan-Khan 22 Sept met with PM Laghdaf to discuss plight of Malian refugees in Mauritania. News agency ANI 16 Sept released AQIM video showing 4 Frenchmen abducted in Niger in 2010.

August 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Govt 3 Aug scheduled legislative, municipal elections for 12 Oct; opposition movement Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) called move “unilateral provocation”, threatened boycott; National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) 22 Aug postponed polls to 23 Nov. Govt signed military cooperation agreement with Niger. President Abdel Aziz confirmed country will participate in UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

July 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Security forces 7-9 July arrested at least 22 “Black” Mauritanians and Senegalese following intercommunal clashes in Kaedi; various rights groups called for their release. Islamist Tawassoul party 13 July accused govt of failing to respond adequately, authorities 15 July released 9 detainees.

May 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Court 13 May sentenced Canadian citizen Aaron Yoon to 10 years’ prison for links with terrorist group responsible for Jan 2013 In Amenas hostage crisis. Court 14 May sentenced gendarme convicted of spying for al-Qaeda to 10 years’ hard labour. Mali Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine spokesman surrendered to authorities 18 May.

April 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Following meeting with President Abdel Aziz, French FM 15 April announced Mauritania will contribute troops to UN force in Mali, possibly 1,800 soldiers. National Pact for Development and Democracy, Movement for Refoundation and Democratic Renewal parties 21 April left presidential coalition CPM to join opposition. Chairman of opposition coalition Coordination of Democratic Opposition (COD) Mohamed Jamil Mansour 5 April said COD rejects any electoral process which is not result of national consensus, reiterated demand that Abdel Aziz cede power. Opposition MPs 23 April established commission to investigate allegations of drug trafficking and illegal business deals involving Abdel Aziz.

March 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Abdelaziz 4 March said country ready to join UN peacekeeping force in Mali “if situation improves”; Nigerien President Issoufou, Malian interim president Traoré and Moroccan FM Saad Eddine El Othmani visited early month to discuss Mali crisis. AQIM said it executed French hostage captured in 2011. Electoral Commission 28 Feb announced legislative and municipal elections, initially scheduled in 2011, now due Sept-Oct 2013. Initiative for Abolitionist Resurgence 10 March denounced arrests of 9 of its members in Kaedi.

February 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

Court 11 Feb charged 2 suspected AQIM members with planning to fight in Mali. Rights groups issued communiqué expressing concern at spread of extremist teachings. Army 18 Feb began joint military exercise Flintlock-2013, led by AFRICOM and involving 19 other countries including U.S., France, Canada. Opposition Union des Forces de Progrès early-month called for formation of national unity govt as precondition for participation in next elections, and reform of electoral commission.

January 2013

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Abdelaziz 14 Jan deployed troops to secure borders with Mali; 15 Jan said Mauritania could intervene if Mali requests support; 22 Jan called for greater unity between Arab countries in fight against terrorism, organised crime. 3 suspected AQIM jihadis fleeing Mali arrested 28 Jan in Chegar.

November 2012

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Abdelaziz returned from France following recovery from 14 Oct shooting; Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) 2 Nov called for independent investigation into shooting, 21 Nov held rally in Nouakchott to demand president’s departure; Abdelaziz asked opposition to “be reasonable”.

October 2012

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania

President Abdelaziz flew to France for treatment following apparent “friendly fire” incident 13 Oct, sparking speculation over his health; soldier suspected of being responsible 22 Oct gave interview to explain “mistake”.

September 2012

Middle East & North Africa

Mauritania