Freedom in the World
You are here
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who overthrew President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdellahi in an August 2008 military coup, was declared the winner of a July 2009 presidential election. The results, while accepted by some foreign observers, were rejected by opposition parties.
Despite the initiation of oil production in 2006, Mauritania remains one of the world’s poorest countries, with some three-quarters of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture and livestock production. Mauritania imports about 70 percent of its food, and rising global food prices sparked social unrest in late 2007 and early 2008 that helped to weaken Abdellahi’s presidency. In December 2009, the U.S. government reinstated Mauritania’s preferential trading status under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also restarted their development programs, which had been suspended following the 2008 coup.
Mauritania is not an electoral democracy.The transitional elections of 2006 and 2007 were generally praised by independent observers, but constitutional government was suspended by the August 2008 military coup. Serious doubts have been raised about the legitimacy of the 2009 presidential election, which installed General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz as the civilian president almost exactly a year after he seized power.