RIP: Ould Taya's regime
With all the condemnation of the overthrow of Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya's regime in Mauritania, an article from the UN's IRIN service shows that Ould Taya's dictatorship should not be overly mourned.
In 1989, there were a series of border clashes between Mauritania and its southern neighbor Senegal. The regime of Ould Taya exploited the opportunity to expel some 65,000 black Mauritanians in what human rights' groups call an attempt to Arabize the country. About 20,000 black Mauritanians still live in refugee camps in northern Senegal.
Fatou Diop, 70 years old, said she still remembers leaving pots and pans on the fire when policemen came and forced her and her family from their village of Keur Massar.
Ould Taya's regime insisted that the refugees were free to return, but the refugees wanted compensation for the expulsions. Given that it was Ould Taya's regime that chased them out in the first place and given that Mauritania legally banned slavery only in 1981 and, by most accounts still tolerates the practice, it's little wonder many refugees aren't rushing to return.
While formal denunciation of military coups is right and proper and pressure on the new military regime in Mauritania to hold democratic elections is essential, no one should shed a tear for the fall of a repressive regime like Ould Taya's. If two years of international isolation is required to guide Mauritania to civilization, provided that actually is the result of this process, then it will have been worth it.