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Country Fast Facts: Mauritania


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Independent from France in 1960, Mauritania annexed the southern third of the former Spanish Sahara (now Western Sahara) in 1976, but relinquished it after three years of raids by the Polisario guerrilla front seeking independence for the territory.

Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya seized power in a coup in 1984. Opposition parties were legalized and a new constitution approved in 1991.

Two multiparty presidential elections since then were widely seen as flawed, but October 2001 legislative and municipal elections were generally free and open.

A bloodless coup in August 2005 deposed President Taya and ushered in a military council, which declared it would remain in power for up to two years while it created conditions for genuine democratic institutions and organized elections.

Accordingly, parliamentary elections were held in late 2006-early 2007 and presidential elections in March 2007.

The newly-elected legislature is expected to assume power following the inauguration of the new president in April 2007.

The country continues to experience ethnic tensions among its black population and different Moor (Arab-Berber) communities.

Source: CIA World Fact Book