Corruption investigations against former Mauritanian President Ould Abdel Aziz continue

Already last year, the judicial authorities decided to confiscate several assets of the former president and several of his associates, as well as to place him under house arrest
Mauritania's former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

AFP/LUDOVIC MARIN  -   Mauritania's former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

On Thursday, an examining magistrate in Nouakchott, following the recommendations of the attorney general Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, brought corruption charges against former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and ten other figures close to him, including his father-in-law, several businessmen and former ministers. 

The AFP news agency has learned from a source familiar with the case that the charges against the former president are lengthy and include money laundering, embezzlement and obstruction of justice. 

The news generated immediate reactions in the country's capital, particularly in the vicinity of the Palace of Justice, where supporters and detractors of the ex-president have been gathering since Tuesday. 

The corruption case dates back to the first months of the current government. Public opinion, increasingly demanding in the fight against corruption, has led the competent authorities to investigate several cases from the Ould Abdel Aziz era.

At the same time, anti-Abduld Abdel Aziz MPs, both from the opposition and the current ruling majority, have set up a parliamentary committee to investigate corruption cases from the former president's era.

The committee has already heard testimony from dozens of national figures, including ministers, civil servants, advisors and businessmen. It has been able to review thousands of documents relating to business and important decisions related to the handling of public money. His two former prime ministers, Yahya Ould Haddamin and Mohamed Salem Ould al-Bashir, have also been summoned to parliament for various economic and financial crimes.

Supporters of the current government believe that the whole anti-corruption procedure is part of what they call President Mohamed Ould Sheikh al-Ghazwani's reform project to increase the levels of transparency and accountability of the administration. They also accuse the former president of establishing a system of systematic theft of public resources, which led the former president and his entourage to enrich themselves substantially.

Presidente Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani
PHOTO/AP - President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani

Abdel Aziz's supporters, however, see this anti-corruption operation as a smokescreen by the current leadership to cover up its failure and inability to reform the country and as a political persecution against the former leader of the country. 

The government's spokesman has been cautious in issuing any kind of assessment, limiting himself to pointing out that the case is before the judiciary and that the former president is innocent until proven guilty.

Ould Abdel Aziz, 64, assumed the presidency in 2008 and held it for two terms until 2019, when he was replaced by Ould al-Bashir, his former defence minister.