Sunday, August 10, 2008

Post-Coup Mauritania

I'm sure by now most of you have heard that the president was arrested a few days ago and the military has taken control of the government. Life under military rule has been pretty much same old (but it's still crazy to think about). I was on a break from language class when my friend texted me from brousse, "There was a coup d'etat in Nouakchott." I had been aware that people had some issues with the president, but I was caught completely off gaurd. It doesn't help that we're supposed to avoid conversations about politics with Mauritanians, but we asked our facilitator about it and he actually laughed. Apparently, this is the fifth coup he's lived through, so it's old hat at this point.

I did ask some other Mauritanians how they feel about the coup, which has given me some insight into not only the current situation but the political culture in general. But I've had to keep my inquiries pretty neutral. It's almost comical that we can't discuss politics (or religion), since most of us studied poli-sci, international relations, or some other related subject in school. I've definately had to resist responding to some provocative statements.

In terms of my work, I don't think the coup will have much of an impact. Peace Corps isn't going anywhere, and as far as I can tell, the funding that my sector relies on is still flowing. For other development/aid efforts, though, any suspension of international aid will definately be felt throughout the country (UNHCR does a lot of work in this part of the country relocating refugees from Senegal, for example). IRIN has some good information on everything that's been going on here.

Anyway, I'm safe and sound, of course. All the frantic phone calls/emails made me feel really loved, so thanks!

1 comment:

beatriz said...

Elise,
Great to hear that you are well and that things are smooth still there. I was just thinking. I have no idea what your day consists of for now. What do you do? I know you ran a little once during your site visit. You have pretty intense language classes. Do you have any time left to exercise? Can women play soccer? Are you able to find a reasonable amount of time to read and relax. Who are the other volunteers who you are still with for now? Has PC changed their minds about sending you to your site location alone? It would make more sense that you have another person with you so you can feel more comfortable? Just a few things that run through my mind but I can never seem to remember when we talk on the phone. Anything about what your routine would be fine. Love always, Mom