What Type Of Government Does Mauritania Have?

The flag of Mauritania.
The flag of Mauritania.

Mauritania is an Islamic state located in the Maghreb region of West Africa. Mauritania is a sovereign state, formerly existing as a colony of France. The first government in independent Mauritania was established in 1960 after the country gained independence. Mauritania is based on a legal system that incorporates aspects of Islamic law as well as the French civil law system. The 1991 constitution outlines the legal framework within which the government is to act and outlines the freedoms and rights of its citizens. The constitution guarantees suffrage to all citizens above the age of 18 and allows them to participate in elections.

History Of Mauritania

For a long time since the independence of Mauritania, the country has been through a period of despotic regimes. The first president, Moktar Ould Daddah, citing unpreparedness of Mauritania to adopt a democratic multiparty system, introduced his authoritarian regime in 1964 under a new constitution. He was re-elected thrice in 1966, 1972, and 1976 in uncontested elections firmly reinstalling his position as the president. Unsatisfied with his regime, the military ousted him in the 1978 coup. Subsequent governments matched the previous regime in their dictatorial characteristics. Attempts to re-introduce democratic rule began in 1991 with the reintroduction of a multiparty system and a new constitution. The new constitution saw the rapid formation of parties within the country although the government still had a one party representation in parliament following a boycott of the first parliamentary elections. The ousting of presidents continued due to failure to uphold the constitution. A military council, formed in 2005 after a coup, facilitated the first democratic presidential elections since the independence of Mauritania. The elections held in 2007 installed Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdalla as the first fully democratically elected president. A coup in 2008 ended his rule, which was already turning authoritarian. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz succeeded Cheikh Abdalla as the president and was officially elected in 2009 after the resignation of Cheikh.

Executive Branch Of The Government Of Mauritania

The Constitution of Mauritania of 1991 defines all the three branches of government, which includes the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Within the constitution, the president is the head of state while the prime minister is the head of government. The executive consists of the president, the prime minister, and a cabinet. The president is elected for a five-year term by an absolute majority vote in a two-round system. The president appoints members of the executive. While the executive is the supreme body with certain supreme powers, the president is under constraint from parliament.

Legislative Branch Of The Government Of Mauritania

The legislature of Mauritania exists as a bicameral body with a senate and the national assembly. The Senate consists of 56 members three of whom represent the diaspora community. The citizens elect the 53 Senate members through a simple majority vote for six-year terms. The National Assembly is the lower house of the legislature composed of 146 members who serve for five-year terms.

Judicial Branch Of The Government Of Mauritania

The judiciary is the independent legal body of the Mauritanian government. The judiciary is composed of several courts with the Supreme Court being the highest. The Supreme Court consists of the criminal and civil chambers. Each chamber consists of a president assisted by five counselors. The constitutional council, responsible for constitutional matters, is composed of six members. The president appoints judges of the Supreme Court and the constitutional council to serve for nine-term.


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