The protests in Mauritania kicked off on February 25, 2011.
See the whole Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series.
Mauritania is honestly a country I've never heard of before I began researching these protests. I couldn't have told you what continent it was on, what language they probably spoke. I couldn't have even guess what drives their economy or if their women have anything close to equal rights. But I'm glad to finally learn more about the world around me and look further than just what I get from cnn.com.
Mauritania's official name is the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Geographically, is it located north western Africa. Important bordering countries include: Algeria. The capital is Nouakchott. The population is estimated at 3.3 million people. The language is Arabic.
Mauritania's most recent leader is President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. This president has an interesting presidential history. He was part of the leaders of two coups in Mauritania. In 2005, he helped depose President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, and in 2008, he helped depose President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. He was President of the transitional government and stepped down from that post to run for President in 2009 election. President Aziz appointed the Prime Minister after the 2008 coup and he has served at the president's discretion since then. The Prime Minister is Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf.
In terms of independence, Mauritania gained its independence from France in 1960. I haven't seen a lot of information about their independence process. There's more available about the failure of the first President. They have always held elections in Mauritania since they were an independent country, but the incumbent has no problem winning and thus far in history, the leaders has only changed through a military coup.
Mauritania deals with strong opposition within the country and around Africa. Within the country, the opposition party raise trouble for the president. Around Africa, he faced sanctions for his involvement in the coup and wasn't immediately recognized as the country's president. I'm sure this has affected the country's stability for the last two years.
The main causes cited as the reasons for the protests include: policies of the president.
The protests started on February 25th in the capital city of Nouakchott. The people gathered in the hundreds. It was reported that the people gathered because they heard about the gathering on Facebook. This first protest was against the ruling policies of President Aziz. This came more than a month after the self-immolation of a man near the Presidential Palace.
There is an senatorial election scheduled for April 24. The Democratic Opposition Coordination (DOC) is a group of eight political parties and they are the ones who filed the formal request. The request comes because of the state of the country right now. They feel that there's no way the elections can be free and fair in this environment.
There really isn't a ton of information about Mauritania that I'm able to find. Most of their mentions come in relation to Libya and Qaddafi. Nouakchott is where the African Union (AU) met recently to discuss the situation of the uprisings. They reached a different conclusion than the Arab League. The Arab League supported and requested intervention in Libya from the United Nations. The AU did no such thing. They have supported Qaddafi as far as to allow plans to leave their countries headed towards his that have mercenaries. And they have openly condemned the enforcement of the no-fly zone and cease fire for Libya, directing their criticism to America and Obama, the UK, and the UN.
I will keep looking for information and if I get more about Mauritania specifically, I'll blog about it.
More information can be found at wikipedia.org, cnn.com, and africa-times-news.com.