Mauritanian president urges West Africa to unite against insurgency

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani urged West African nations to unite against insurgency, in an AFP interview before the presidential vote.

He emphasized that a common political will is essential to combat insecurity in the region.

Ghazouani, a 67-year-old former army chief and defense minister, is expected to secure a second term in the June 29 election.

He stressed that individual countries cannot effectively tackle terrorism alone, highlighting the worsening security situation in the sub-region.

The president noted that the region’s instability is exacerbated by military coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

Despite insurgency spreading in the Sahel, particularly in Mali, Mauritania has remained attack-free since 2011.

Ghazouani called for a coalition to address these threats collectively.

Campaigning in Atar, 450 kilometers northeast of Nouakchott, Ghazouani proposed replacing the G5 Sahel alliance if necessary.

Created in 2014 with Western support, the G5 Sahel includes Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Chad, but recent withdrawals have weakened it.

Ghazouani underscored Mauritania’s respect for the sovereignty of Sahel countries, hoping they move swiftly toward elections.

He highlighted Mauritania’s stability, attributing it to vigilance against militant threats and significant efforts in education and healthcare.

He pledged to expand social welfare if re-elected, benefiting over 1.5 million people in his first term.

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