Ahead of Mauritania’s Election, Activists Hope for ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’

Supporters of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz celebrate in the street shortly after he was declared the victor in the previous day’s presidential election, in Nouakchott, Mauritania, July 19, 2009 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).
Supporters of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz celebrate in the street shortly after he was declared the victor in the previous day’s presidential election, in Nouakchott, Mauritania, July 19, 2009 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).
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For the past few days, free speech and anti-corruption activists have gathered outside a prison in Mauritania to demand the release of Abderrahmane Weddady and Cheikh Ould Jiddou, two bloggers who have long been critical of the government. The arrest of the two men last month appears to be linked to their reporting on an elaborate real estate scam that has driven down property values and defrauded thousands of Mauritanian families, all while allegedly benefiting relatives of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Prosecutors have accused them of defamation, for which they face up to five years in prison if convicted. […]

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