Mauritania. At the beginning of the year, the regime
ordered the dissolution of the opposition party Action for
Change (AC). However, its members would be allowed to retain
their seats in Parliament. The party seemed to be in favor
of greater rights for blacks and slaves.
Accusations came from the government that AC was trying
to undermine the country's national unity and that its
actions could create tensions with Senegal. On AC's side, it
was claimed that the ban came because of the party's success
in the local elections.
Party leader Messaoud Ould Belkheir had also criticized
the government for allowing people to still live under
slave-like conditions in the country and for the country to
resume diplomatic relations with Israel in 2001.
During the fall, the civil rights organization Amnesty
International also demanded that the government take
measures to counter slavery and discrimination against
former slaves and criticized that so little had been done
since the country officially abolished slavery in 1981.
Countryaah website, several warnings also came about that starvation
threatened after six bad harvests in a row as a result of
both drought and severe rainfall. At the end of November,
more than 10% of children were reported to suffer from
severe malnutrition in the most vulnerable areas. This is in
the countryside where tradition invites the children to get
food first. Several hundred thousand people were in need of
food aid, and it was feared that the situation would become
acute in early 2003. However, the aid seemed to be delayed.