Since 3 August 2005, the country has been ruled by the "Conseil Militaire pour la Justice et la Democratie" (CMJD). The CMJD explained the functioning of the executive in an amendment to the constitution. The military committee appoints a civilian prime minister and a cabinet of 24 ministers. The government is accountable to the military council; parliament has been dissolved. The CMJD has indicated its intention to reintroduce parliamentary democracy as soon as possible (within two years).
Before the coup, Mauritania had a parliamentary democracy, modelled on the French constitutional model, with influences from Islamic Sharia law. Under this system, the president was directly elected for a six-year term. He appointed the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. The parliament consisting of two chambers, the National Assembly and the Senate, controlled the work of the ministers. A Constitutional Council, appointed by the President, coordinated elections and referendums and ensured that government activities complied with the Constitution.
A council for economic and social affairs advised on economic and social matters and a supreme Islamic council advised on religious matters. According to the constitution, Mauritania has an independent judiciary. Changes to the constitution require a two-thirds majority in the Senate and approval by referendum.
After a failed coup attempt in June 2003, two more coup attempts took place in Mauritania in August and September 2004. The coup attempt in June 2003 was defeated after two days of fighting in the capital, Nouakchott. The 2004 coup attempt, on the other hand, was not accompanied by fighting, but those allegedly involved in the June 2003 coup were arrested. Criminal proceedings against the coup leaders were launched in late 2004 and 84 of the 195 coup leaders were found guilty.
In April 2005, President Taya intensified his crackdown on (alleged) Islamists in the country. In a series of arrests, dozens of people were detained and mosques were raided. This aroused anger among the Islamic population. On 4 June 2005, a Mauritanian army base was attacked in the north-east of the country, close to the Algerian border. The Mauritanian government blamed the attack, which killed 19 soldiers, on the Al-Qaeda-linked Algerian Groupe Salafiste de Predication et de Combat (GSPC).
The current political situation is described in the history section.
The main sectors of Mauritania's economy are services, agriculture and fisheries, and mining. Industry is still largely undeveloped. The country remains highly dependent on foreign aid.
The presence of oil near Nouakchott has recently been demonstrated, and from mid-2006 Mauritania has been exporting oil with the help of the Australian company Woodside. The new road from Morocco to Nouakchott has been completed and is expected to be of great economic significance, changing the relative geographical isolation in which Mauritania used to be. The road will make Mauritania an important link in the connection between the countries of the Sahara and North Africa. The recent discovery of gold and copper reserves is likely to provide another source of income.
Although Mauritania still relies on foreign aid, economic growth has been around 3-6% per year for several years. (3.5% in 2017) This is partly a result of the structural adjustment programmes Mauritania is implementing. Other positive effects on the economy are low inflation and a reasonable balance of payments.
Nevertheless, poverty among a significant part of the population is still distressing. 31% of the population lives below the poverty line and GDP is $4,500 per capita (2017). One of the bottlenecks in the fight against poverty is the weakly developed government apparatus, which means that the absorption capacity is low.
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