Mauritania president proposes dialogue with opposition

Ould Abdel Aziz has dismissed calls for an Egypt-style revolt in his country

NOUAKCHOTT - Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has proposed to open a dialogue with the opposition over an eight-point plan to enhance "democracy, national unity and public liberties," according to a copy obtained by AFP Thursday.
"The dialogue must seriously and without taboo touch on all issues," including "professionalism, an independent judiciary, good governance, a consensual electoral code and the role of the media in enshrining democracy and the rule of law," the text says.
The talks are also to focus on the role of the opposition, transfer of political power and tightening measures to guarantee the independence and neutrality of the administration.
The president pledges to ensure full implementation of results following negotiating sessions in which the government and the opposition would be equally represented.
The plan follows proposals made to Ould Abdel Aziz two weeks ago by an opposition coalition which insisted on confidence-building measures by both sides as a prelude to a political dialogue.
These include lowering food prices, opening the media to the opposition and pledging not to hold non-consensual elections and not to suppress peaceful demonstrations.
But these points were not addressed in Ould Abdel Aziz's plan.
Sources said meanwhile that opposition leaders who met to discuss the presidential plan overnight have yet to come up with a joint response.
Last month, a top Mauritanian dissident said elections due in October could not go ahead without reforms, accusing Ould Abdel Aziz's government of abuse of power.
The opposition alleged fraud in 2009 elections that confirmed Ould Abdel Aziz as president, after he took power in a coup, and say conditions have not changed ahead of the coming legislative and municipal vote.
"Elections in October are impossible because of the current conditions, notably the absence of agreement on electoral lists," Union of Forces of Progress president Mohamed Ould Moloud said.
He called on Ould Abdel Aziz to "create conditions for the movement to a real democracy".
Ould Abdel Aziz has dismissed calls for an Egypt-style revolt in his country, insisting it was a democracy that guarantees basic freedoms.