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One-Partyism in Mauritania

  • Clement H. Moore

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The Islamic Republic of Mauritania, independent since 28 November 1960, is the most recent convert to the revolutionary model of single- party government practised in a number of new African states.1 As such, it is a political curiosity, for the model presupposes a militant mass party that ‘won’ independence, whereas the Mauritanian People's Party, founded after independence, in December 1961, is a heterogeneous association of politicians and traditional tribal leaders. Until 1964, President Mokhtar Ould Daddah, Mauritania's first university graduate, carefully balanced the regional, tribal, and personal demands of the notables while moderating those of the young modernisers within his administration. Since the extraordinary congress held at Kaedi in January 1964, however, he has attempted to transform a politics of equilibrium based upon tribal personalities to a politics of nation- building based upon a modern party.

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Page 409 note 1 For elaborations of the model, see Coleman, James S. and Rosberg, Carl G. Jr. (eds.), Political Parties and National Integration in Tropical Africa (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1964), pp. 112, 186315, and 655–80, and the present writer's Tunisia Since Independence: the dynamics of one-party government (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1965), pp. 16 and 203–11, along with his ‘Mass Party Régimes in Africa,’ in H. J. Spiro (ed.), The Primacy of Politics in Africa (forthcoming).

Page 412 note 1 ‘Résolution sur la doctrine,’ Congrès extraordinaire du Parti du peuple mauritanien, 28–31 01 1964 (Nouakchott, 1964, mimeographed).

Page 414 note 1 République Islamique de Mauritanie, Plan quadriennal de développement économique et social (Nouakchott, 1964), p. 291.

Page 414 note 2 See the official organ of the People's Party, Le Peuple (Nouakchott), 24 04 1965.

Page 415 note 1 Ibid. 10 April 1965. 28

Page 416 note 1 ‘Orientation: Principes Fondamentaux’, U.T.M. Congress of 29–31 May 1964 (Nouakchott, 1964, mimeographed).

Page 416 note 2 du peuple, Parti, Statuts (Nouakchott, n.d., mimeographed), Article 22.

Page 418 note 1 The first Mauritanian commandant, who had previously been a French administration clerk in the area, claims that he made the Emir wait a day before receiving him for the first time. Afterwards the Emir proved ‘very wise and careful’ in obeying his administrative superior. The present commandant is a member of the Political Bureau.

Page 418 note 2 See Eagleton, William Jr, ‘The Islamic Republic of Mauritania’, in Middle East Journal (Washington), winter 1965, p. 48.

* Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley. The writer wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the Rockefeller Foundation in making possible his recent visit to Mauritania.

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The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-278X
  • EISSN: 1469-7777
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies
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