Black Mauritanians pursue protest against census

NOUAKCHOTT – Hundreds of black Mauritanians rallied against a census they see as racist for the third day Monday, demanding the release of people arrested in earlier protests that turned violent, sources said.

Dia Gando, a spokesman for the protestors, said from the southern city of Kaedi, that demonstrators had burned tyres in the streets, but said their protest was peaceful and police did not immediately intervene.

Gando said 27 people had been arrested on Saturday and Sunday when the demonstrations organised by a movement which calls itself “Don’t touch my nationality” turned violent.

In Kaedi, a city of about 60,000, hundreds took to the streets Saturday, sacking a courthouse and stores before setting fire to them.

Angry protesters shouted slogans hostile to President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, witnesses said.

On Sunday, Gando said, police cracked down on a second rally and demonstrators responded by setting fire to police vehicles.

The census is “solely aimed at depriving black Mauritanians of their citizenship”, another spokesman of the protest movement, Wane Birane, said.

The group cited “unpleasant questions posed to black Africans” on their knowledge of the country and the low representation of their community in panels supervising the census.

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