October 23, 2007
Mauritania's 2007 Transition to Democracy: Lecture, Discussion & Lunch
In October 2007, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Maghreb Center hosted His Excellency Ibrahiam Dia, the Mauritanian Ambassador to the United States, in his first public appearance and fostered a discussion of Mauritania’s transition, its status as the Islamic world’s newest democracy, and how to bolster U.S. engagement there. Ambassador Dia personally witnessed the historic events and invited discussion on what the transition means to Mauritania and the region and how to bolster U.S. engagement there. The Maghreb Center is an independent, Washington DC based non-profit created to increase understanding of the Maghreb in the United States.
On April 19, 2007, Mauritania ushered in an era of democracy with the swearing-in of its new 69-year-old President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, in what some have referred to as the "gentle revolution." This had been preceded by a successful referendum in June 2006 to see if the people wanted to transition to democracy, following a "democratic" coup d'etat in summer 2005, which many outside observers felt would fail. Since that time, a series of unpredicted and remarkable changes have taken place, including new legislative measures to eradicate slavery and a call for the return of Mauritanians exiled during the tragic 1989 conflict with Senegal.