Mauritania

  1. Ex-president won't help corruption probe 'tarnish' him

    Ahmed Rouaba

    BBC News

    Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz
    Image caption: Mauritania's Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz was silent during questioning

    The former president of Mauritania has refused to answer questions from corruption investigators, saying an article in the constitution "grants him immunity".

    Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz refused on Friday to sign the minutes of the interrogation and remained silent throughout the whole process which began on 6 January, local media said.

    Mr Ould Abdelaziz has been named in a parliamentary investigation along with former prime ministers and cabinet ministers who served during his presidency from 2008 to 2019.

    He is accused of involvement in "corruption and misappropriation of public funds". He denied all the accusations, which he called an attempt to "tarnish his reputation".

    Mr Ould Abdelaziz came to power in a military coup when he toppled Mauritania's only democratically elected president, Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, who died last year.

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  2. Mauritania uncovers illegal migration networks

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A migrant arrives at the Port of Arguineguin after being rescued by the Spanish coast guard in the Canary Island of Gran Canaria on November 23, 2020.
    Image caption: Numbers of migrants arriving in the Canary Islands have soared

    The authorities in Mauritania say they have uncovered more than 30 illegal migration networks and repatriated around 4,000 people to various West African countries.

    Interior Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Merzoug told local media that there had been an increase in the number of people trying to reach Spain's Canary Islands - an alternative route to the Mediterranean Sea where some migrants have been deterred by stricter controls and instability in Libya.

    The UN has called for greater efforts to disrupt people-smuggling rings, after more than 140 people died off the coast of Senegal in October - the deadliest shipwreck of the year.

    Map of Mauritania
  3. Mauritania leader appoints new government

    President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani

    Mauritania's president has appointed a new government after some of his ministers were named in a report on the financial dealings of former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

    President Mohamed Mohamed Ould Ghazouani's office has acknowledged that the changes were as a result of the report.

    He had on Thursday replaced his prime minister for undisclosed reasons.

    The former prime minister and three ministers were mentioned in the report that looked into the sale of state properties and handling of oil revenue, according to AFP news agency.

    The new cabinet was announced on Sunday and the presidency secretary general Adama Bocar Soko said excluding the named ministers would give them "the time they need to prove their innocence".

    Local media reports that former President Aziz has been summoned in connection with the report.

    An investigation is expected to begin before parliament votes on whether to proceed to trial.

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  4. Dozens die in migrant boat off Mauritania

    BBC World Service

    Man walking along Atlantic coast
    Image caption: The sole survivor said his fellow passengers jumped into the sea

    United Nations agencies say 27 people have died after their migrant boat ran into trouble in the Atlantic off the coast of Mauritania earlier this week.

    The UN's refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration said the boat's engine failed as it tried to reach Spain's Canary Islands - leaving the people onboard stranded and suffering from extreme dehydration.

    One survivor - a man from Guinea - was rescued on Thursday.

    He said his fellow passengers had all jumped into the sea.

    More migrants are risking the ocean journey to the Canary Islands as authorities clamp down on crossings in the Mediterranean sea.

  5. Mauritania's PM and cabinet resigns

    Mauritania's Prime Minister Ismail Ould Bedde Ould Cheikh Sidiya has resigned, along with his entire cabinet.

    The government submitted its resignation to President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani.

    The resignation comes as a key investigative report into the former President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz and associated officials was submitted to the judiciary.

    It's believed members of Oul Cheik Sidiya's cabinet were also being investigated as part of the inquiry.

    Mohamed Oul Bilal, a former political advisor, has been appointed as the new prime minister.

  6. Mauritanian arrests over central bank fraud

    Mauritania Central Bank
    Image caption: Millions of money disappeared from the central bank

    Several people have been arrested in connection with the disappearance of millions from the Central Bank of Mauritania.

    Among those arrested are bank employees implicated in the loss of 935,000 euros ($1m; £796,000) and some $358,000.

    The central bank had in a statement announced the mysterious disappearance of the money.

    It admitted to "weaknesses" in its internal controls and pledged to tighten security.

    Police in the country are investigating the fraud.

  7. Leaders meet to discuss Sahel crisis

    BBC World Service

    Map showing jihadist activity in west Africa

    Leaders of five West African countries and President Emmanuel Macron of France have been meeting to review their efforts to intensify the fight against jihadist militants in the Sahel.

    Arriving for the summit in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, Mr Macron praised what he called the real successes of recent months, which include the killing of a local militant leader.

    Jihadist groups have become increasingly active in the Sahel region in recent years, despite the presence of French forces and UN peacekeepers.

    Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in almost daily attacks across the region.

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  8. Mauritania records no new virus cases after recoveries

    A view of an empty street in Nouakchott, Mauritania as government started precautions against coronavirus
    Image caption: The government imposed a night curfew a week after confirming the first coronavirus case

    Mauritania has recorded no new cases of coronavirus, two days after the last patient tested negative.

    The west African country has in the last two days been conducting tests but none had turned out positive.

    It had seven confirmed cases of the virus but six patients recovered and one died. The ministry said all the six recovered patients will remain in isolation for 14 days to rule out any chances of infection.

    On Saturday, the ministry of health "praised God" for what it termed as the absence of the virus in the country.

    Mauritania confirmed its first case of coronavirus on 13 March.

    A week later the country imposed a night curfew and banned international flights.

  9. Four countries receive Covid-19 donations

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    Loading of boxes

    A pan-African infrastructure and logistics solutions company has donated an assortment of equipment to four African countries aimed at fighting the coronavirus.

    Arise, which is based in Libreville, Gabon donated 7m masks, 143,000 sets of protective clothing and 230,000 boxes of disinfectant gel to Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo and Mauritania.

    “In the context of global shortages in critical medical supplies, we are providing a large shipment of medical equipment," CEO Gagan Gupta said.

    The supplies were mainly manufactured in China.

    The Africa CDC, in its latest status reports, says the continent had just over 5,700 confirmed cases.

    See the map below for more information.

    Covid-19 map
  10. Coronavirus cases climb to 400 across Africa

    Chi Chi Izundu

    BBC News, Lagos

    There are now more than 400 known cases of coronavirus across the continent, with nations imposing a range of measures to try to prevent the spread.

    According to the latest data, the breakdown is as follows: Algeria - 60; Benin - 1; Burkina Faso - 15; Cameroon - 5; Central African Republic - 1; Congo-Brazzaville - 1; DR Congo - 2; Egypt - 126; Eswatini - 1; Ethiopia - 5; Equatorial Guinea - 1; Gabon - 1; Ghana - 6; Guinea - 1; Ivory Coast - 3; Kenya - 3; Liberia - 2; Mauritania - 1; Morocco - 37; Namibia - 2; Nigeria - 3; Rwanda - 7; Senegal - 26; Seychelles - 4; Somalia - 1; South Africa - 62; Sudan - 1; Tanzania - 1; Togo - 1; Tunisia - 24.

    While many countries are closing schools, banning large gatherings and shutting borders, in Kenya telecom companies have slashed the cost of mobile money transfers in a bid to encourage people to go cashless.

    An anti-corruption court in Nairobi has relocated and set up outside the capital.

    There is increasing concern about the potential economic impact in Africa.

    People working in other parts of the world are likely to have less money available to send to their families back home so there is likely to be a drop in these remittances.

  11. Mauritania and Senegal sign deal amid fishing row

    A vendor carries fish in the port of Nouakchott in 2019.
    Image caption: Fishing is key to both nations' economies (file photo)

    Senegalese President Macky Sall's official visit to neighbouring Mauritania ended on Tuesday with the two countries signing a number of deals - on security, transport, energy, mining and fishing.

    The Atlantic coast is rich in fish stocks, and fishing is key to both nations' economies.

    But decades of mainly European and Asian trawlers scouring the coastline have meant that the waters have been over-fished. There has also been tension between Senegal and Mauritania over fishing rights.

    RFI reports that Mauritania has lifted fines imposed on Senegalese fishermen accused of operating in their waters, as part of efforts to improve relations with its neighbour.

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  12. The NGO closing because it has completed its work

    Video content

    Video caption: Peter Hudson set up the NGO Rainbow Development in Africa
  13. US criticises lack of security in Sahel region

    The US has criticised governments in West Africa's Sahel region for failing to do more to combat worsening Islamist violence.

    The US deputy ambassador to the UN, Cherith Norman Chalet, told the UN Security Council that Mali in particular had made little progress in implementing a peace deal.

    She said West African leaders needed to be more inclusive and accountable.

    The UN Security Council briefing on violent extremism in the Sahel follows an attack last week by the Islamic State (IS) group on a military base in western Niger where 71 soldiers were killed.

    It was described as the deadliest raid against the Nigerien military in living memory and Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou received the bodies of the dead soldiers publicly on Friday:

    Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou

    The presidents of Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania have since appealed for international help to combat militant Islamists.

    Five West African leaders have appealed for greater international help to combat militant Islamists following the attack.

    French President Emmanuel Macron will host a meeting of presidents from the Sahel next month.

  14. UN security briefing after 'dark day' in Niger's history

    Louise Dewast

    BBC News

    Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou receives the bodies of the dead soldiers on Friday
    Image caption: Militant Islamists killed 71 Nigerian soldiers last week

    A briefing on violent extremism in West Africa is being held by the UN Security Council, a week after Niger suffered its worst jihadist attack in which 71 solders were killed.

    Militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group have staged attacks in the Sahel region this year despite the presence of thousands of regional and foreign troops.

    IS said it was behind the attack on the military base, which killed the 71 soldiers.

    Leaders from Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso - known as the G5 Sahel group - outlined a number of steps for improving security at a meeting on Sunday, but a joint statement released afterwards offered very few details on how to achieve them.

    Presenting that statement, Burkina Faso's President Marc Kaboré pledged to deploy more armed forces and promised to stop the main sources of funding for the militants, which includes gold smuggling and drug trafficking.

    Profiting from porous borders and little state presence, militants are believed to have developed a system of coercion and control over communities, in particular at the border between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, enabling them to expand their capabilities.

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  15. Dozens die off the coast of Mauritania

    Man on Gambian beach
    Image caption: The route from The Gambia used to be a major path for migrants attempting to reach Europe

    At least 57 people have died after their boat capsized off the coast of Mauritania, says the UN migration agency.

    The vessel left The Gambia a week ago carrying 150 migrants, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

    Survivors told the UN that the boat was running low on fuel when it approached the Mauritanian coast.

    The perilous sea route from West Africa was once a major path for migrants attempting to reach Europe but Libya is now the key departure point.

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  16. War in the Sahel

    Video content

    Video caption: France is leading the fight against jihadists in the Sahel

    France is leading the fight against jihadists in the Sahel. Louise Dewast tells Shaun Ley what it's up against.