Learning English - Words in the News
12 March, 2007 - Published 13:10 GMT
Mauritania's first steps to democracy
Mauritania's out-going military leader, Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, has spoken of his pride at the country's first fully democratic presidential elections since independence from France in 1960. This report from David Bamford:
Mauritania has throughout its history been a crossing point between the Arab Maghreb to the north and sub-Saharan black Africa to the south. Its ethnic mix of Berbers, Arab Moors, African Wolof, Soninke and many other groups has been both a source of cultural enrichment and conflict, but it has never had an opportunity to define this diversity through democratic structures. Now it has a chance to do so, but there is a long way to go.
Mauritanians have been used to every kind of hostility - from the baking desert climate, locust invasions, colonial abuses, local wars - not least in neighbouring Western Sahara -- to their own military leaders. From independence in 1960 until their overthrow two years ago, they ran an authoritarian regime that perpetuated the enslavement of one part of Mauritanian society by another. Now this anachronism has imploded.
And just as democracy beckons, a new economic era begins too as Mauritania's newly discovered oil reserves come on tap. But from the plethora of political parties, and a score of presidential candidates, a leadership somehow needs to emerge that can cope with the current social and economic revolution. That will be a tall order for any group of fledgling democratic politicians.
David Bamford, BBC
every kind of hostility
perpetuated the enslavement
this anachronism has imploded
come on tap
a tall order