Apr 02, 2014

Haratin: Biram Abeid’s Presidential Campaign In Motion

After declaring his candidature for the next presidential elections in Mauritania, Biram Dah Abeid has begun his pre-election campaign tour in the South of Mauritania. Mr. Abeid addressed the Haratin people by describing his desire to achieve respect for human rights, national cohesion and positive social change in Mauritania. During the campaign, Mr. Abeid paid tribute to IRA-Mauritania activist Cheikh Ould Vall, who has been unjustly imprisoned since 24 February 2014.

Below is an article by The Communication Commission:

Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, President of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist movement (IRA-Mauritania), United Nations 2013 Human Rights Prize Laureate and presidential candidate for Mauritania’s upcoming elections, has been on a pre-election campaigning tour in the South of Mauritania. On Wednesday 19 March 2014, he visited the city of M’Bout, but before entering the city itself, Mr Abeid and his delegation stopped at M’Bout’s “Edbaye”, a so called ‘slave neighbourhood’ where the Haratin people live. The warm welcome he received was precisely what one could expect of an anti-slavery activist’s visit to such a place: frank, sincere, colourful and enthusiastic.

As the presidential candidate Mr Ould Abeid then made his way to the city itself, the crowd that had come to see him increased with people coming from villages in the countryside nearby M’Bout. A concert of cheering and whistling marked the arrival of his delegation in M’Bout, where tents had been set up around a stage in preparation for the event earlier that morning.

Upon his arrival, Mr Ould Abeid paid tribute to IRA-Mauritania activist Cheikh Ould Vall, forced to follow the presidential campaign from afar after having been unjustly imprisoned in Kaédi for having refused to submit himself to the racism and humiliation forced upon him by the town judge. Mr Ould Abeid greeted Cheikh Ould Vall’s mother and renewed IRA-Mauritania’s pledge to fight until justice is done. He then recalled the long history of M’Bout’s Edbaye, a history marked by struggles against arbitrary repression, exclusion and marginalisation.

After lunch and the midday prayer, the delegation set off again and arrived in Seylibabi around 6p.m., after stopping by small towns, among which N’diajibni, Ejar, and Kelenkoum. Welcomed with the now customary cheering and dancing, the delegation made its way directly to the rostrum and proceeded to present its presidential programme, led by Mr Ould Abeid himself.

The most remarkable thing about the stop in Seylibabi was the cosmopolitan nature of the audience, which reflected the character of the inhabitants of the region of Guidimagha. This event brought together people of all segments of society, displaying a diversity of ethnicities, generations and social backgrounds. Men stood with women, public figures made their way through throngs of onlookers, while the whole event seemed like a melting pot of all of Mauritania’s ethnic groups. Those who accuse Mr Ould Abeid of dividing Mauritanian people would have been faced there with the most scathing rebuttal to their claims.

IRA-Mauritania leader Balla Traoré spoke first, addressing the people in soninké. Judging by the tension in the audience and the intensity of the bursts of applause which punctuated his intervention, he made a strong impression and found the right words to capture the audience’s attention. Mr Traoré reminded the people of Guidimagha that the IRA-Mauritania is determined to ensure Mr Ould Abeid’s success in the presidential elections. “Biram is the synthesis of Mauritania”, he exclaimed. “The inhabitants of Guidimagha must carry him to victory with their votes. If they do, slavery, segregation and arbitrariness will give way to justice, equality and freedom in Mauritania.” After Mr Traoré, it was Diop Mamadou Tidjani’s turn to speak in pular; then the candidate himself walked up the steps to the stage where he was met with a round of applause more intense than any other. Mr Ould Abeid then addressed the people of Guidimagha in these terms: “If there was any justice on this Earth, this region would not be in the state of disrepair in which it currently languishes. It is the only region in Mauritania to ensure its self-sufficiency in terms of food production, thanks to the efforts of its citizens in the fields of livestock and agriculture. A region full of great Mosques, Mahadra and sumptuous villas whose funding was not reliant on embezzlement and fraud as is the case in all other Mauritanian regions. It is the sons and daughters of this region, through their hard work and endurance in the fields and abroad, who are at the root of these achievements. The areas that are most affected here are those which are related to the state. Health, education, employment and agricultural credit are lagging behind, evidence of the injustice and marginalisation suffered by the people in this region, marginalisation which furthermore pushes young people to leave and try their luck abroad, where they hope to find better living conditions. This region is riddled with feudalism and political despotism. The State only makes deals with a select few families to whom it grants impunity in exchange for maintaining the established order.”  After specifying that his programme focused on providing solutions to all of these vices which cripple Mauritania, the candidate renewed his thanks to the warm and welcoming audience in Seylibabi.

This Thursday, 20 March 2014, the president of IRA-Mauritania and presidential candidate, organised a smaller meeting with the public figures and local managers of the region of Guidimagha in order to set up offices and commissions to oversee voters’ registration on the electoral roll and to maintain mobilisation for his programme in the region.

Around 11 a.m. the delegation left Seylibabi for Lekseiba, one of its stops on the way to Monguel, the last stop of the campaign journey, which started one week earlier in Rosso.

Presidential candidate Mr Ould Abeid and his delegation held two public meetings this afternoon [20 February 2014], one in Lekseiba and the other in Monguel. The delegation was then invited for dinner with activist Hmednah Ould Ethman, IRA-Mauritania’s coordinator in Gorgol, where an evening of political debates took place with the participation of people from neighbouring villages.

On Friday 21 March 2014, the delegation will arrive back in Nouakchott at 5 p.m. after a stop and a meeting in Niabina, half-way between Kaédi and Boghé.