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To 'Midwife' - and Abort - a Democracy: Mauritania's Transition from Military Rule, 2005-2008

Boubacar N'Diaye
The Journal of Modern African Studies
Vol. 47, No. 1 (Mar., 2009), pp. 129-152
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30224926
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
To 'Midwife' - and Abort - a Democracy: Mauritania's Transition from Military Rule, 2005-2008
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Abstract

The 3 August 2005 military coup was Mauritania's best opportunity to turn the page on decades of the deposed quasi-military regime's destructive politics. This article critically analyses relevant aspects of the transition that ensued in the context of the prevailing models of military withdrawal from politics in Africa. It also examines the challenges that Mauritania's short-lived Third Republic faced. It argues that the transition process did not escape the well-known African military junta leader's proclivity to manipulate transitions to fulfil suddenly awakened self-seeking political ambitions, in violation of solemn promises. While there was no old-fashioned ballot stuffing to decide electoral outcomes, Mauritania's junta leader and his lieutenants spared no effort to keep the military very much involved in politics, and to perpetuate a strong sense of entitlement to political power. Originally designed as an ingenious 'delayed self-succession' of sorts, in the end, another coup aborted Mauritania's democratisation process and threw its institutions in a tailspin. This only exacerbated the challenges that have saddled Mauritania's political system and society for decades - unhealthy civil-military relations, a dismal 'human rights deficit', terrorism, and a neopatrimonial, disastrously mismanaged economy.

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