Saturday, August 09, 2008

Language and Conflict: The coup in Mauritania

Is it ever good to have a coup?  I don't know how corrupt Abdallahi was, or how meaningful his anti-secular moves were.  This one made me think about the 1999 coup in Guinea-Bissau, which also started after the President fired the chief of the Army, who then turned around and started a coup.  In Guinea-Bissau, new elections were held within a year, and, other than the fact that the new President's forces hunted down and killed the coup leader, the former Army chief, it all went pretty smoothly.

The coup in Mauritania happened two days ago.  It was mostly bloodless.  According to the Associated Press:
Police reportedly fired tear gas at about 50 people who had gathered near the main market of Nouakchott [the capital]. Otherwise, the city remained calm.
Wikipedia's coverage of the Mauritanian coup is very comprehensive (like their coverage of South Ossetia).

Pretty much everyone in Mauritania speaks Arabic, so there are no meaningful internal language considerations.  Wikipedia's reports that although most of the rest of the world is acting outraged, the Arab League and the Arab Maghreb Union are both sending delegations to investigate.  My theory says that if the Arab language governments are OK with this, we should tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

General Aziz has promised elections quickly. 

Since Aziz has been in power before, and has been around for a long time, there is no reason to think this will have any impact on the decades long conflict between Mauritania and Morocco over Western Sahara.

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