Browse the listing below to find government information for Mauritania, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Mauritania at its
Mauritania Country Page.
Independence: November 28, 1960.
Constitution: Approved 1991. Military rule 1978-1992. Original constitution promulgated 1961.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state). Legislative--bicameral national assembly, directly elected lower house (81 members), and upper house (56 members) chosen indirectly by municipal councilors. Judicial--a supreme court and lower courts are nominally independent but subject to control of executive branch; judicial decisions are rendered mainly on the basis of Shari'a (Islamic law) for social/family matters and a western style legal code, applied in commercial and some criminal cases.
Political parties: 11 (November 2003 presidential elections).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
National day: November 28, Independence Day.
Flag: Green with a yellow five-pointed star above a yellow, horizontal crescent; the closed side of the crescent is down.
Government of Mauritania
In October 2001, Mauritania held its third legislative and fifth municipal elections since the opening of multi-party politics under the 1991 constitution. In an effort to overcome widespread accusations of fraud and manipulation in previous elections, the government introduced new safeguards, including published voter lists and a hard-to-falsify voter identification card. Reversing a trend of election boycotts, 15 opposition parties nominated candidates for more than 3,000 municipal posts and the 81-member National Assembly. Four opposition parties won a combined 11 seats in the National Assembly and took 15% of the municipal posts. The ruling Republican, Democratic, and Social Party (PRDS), in conjunction with two coalition parties, won the remaining contests. Presidential elections are slated for 2003.
The PRDS, led by President Maaouya ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, has dominated Mauritanian politics since the country's first multi-party elections in April 1992 following the approval by referendum of the current constitution in July 1991. President Taya, who won elections in 1992 and 1997, first became chief of state through a December 12, 1984 bloodless coup which made him chairman of the committee of military officers that governed Mauritania from July 1978 to April 1992. The country's first president, Moktar ould Daddah, served from independence until ousted in a bloodless coup on July 10, 1978.
Politics in Mauritania have always been heavily influenced by personalities, with any leader's ability to exercise political power dependent upon control over resources; perceived ability or integrity; and tribal, ethnic, family, and personal considerations. Conflict between white Moor, black Moor, and non-Moor ethnic groups, centering on language, land tenure, and other issues, continues to be the dominant challenge to national unity.
The government bureaucracy is composed of traditional ministries, special agencies, and parastatal companies. The Ministry of Interior controls a system of regional governors and prefects modeled on the French system of local administration. Under this system, Mauritania is divided into 13 regions (wilaya), including the capital district, Nouakchott. Control is tightly concentrated in the executive branch of the central government, but a series of national and municipal elections since 1992 have produced some limited decentralization.
Political parties, illegal during the military period, were legalized again in 1991. By April 1992, as civilian rule returned, 15 major political parties had been recognized; 11 major political parties existed in 2003. As of October 2003, three major opposition candidates were running for president in the November elections. The candidates and their parties are Mohamed ould Haidallah (no declared political party), Ahmed ould Daddah (RFD, or Rally of Democratic Forces), and Messaoud Boulkheir (APP, or Popular Progressive Alliance). Most opposition parties boycotted the first legislative election in 1992, and for nearly a decade the parliament has been dominated by the PRDS. The opposition participated in municipal elections in January-February 1994 and subsequent Senate elections, gaining representation at the local level as well as one seat in the Senate. Noting procedural changes and opposition gains in municipal and legislative contests, most local observers considered the October 2001 elections open and transparent.