Officially, it is 9 years of compulsory schooling. The
primary school is 6 years old and starts when the children
are 6 years old. In 2000, 64% of children in the relevant
age group attended primary school. High school is also 6
years old (3 + 3). There are four higher education
institutions in the country. a university in Nouakchott
(founded 1981) and an institute of Islamic studies in
Boutilimit (1961). According to UNESCO 2003 estimates, 60%
of the adult population is illiterate (48% of men, 68% of
women). See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Mauritania.
In June 2006, a change of constitution was confirmed in a
referendum of 97% of the vote. The amendments allow a
president to sit for a maximum of 2 periods (ie, re-elected
once). He must be a maximum of 75 years when he is a
candidate and the term of government is limited from 6 to 5
In November and December municipal and parliamentary
elections were held.
In preparation for the March 2007 presidential election,
the various alliances sought to secure their support from
the country's various factions. The second round of the
presidential election was won by Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi
with 53% of the vote. Abdallahi had held various ministerial
posts during the Taya administration. In his first speech
after the election victory, he stated that the country's
development should "be based on legislation and economic
development". The day after his inauguration as president,
Abdallahi appointed Zeine Ould Zeidane as prime minister.
Zeidane had run for the presidential post himself, but was
beaten in the first round. He instead chose to recommend
Abdallahi, who resigned by appointing him as prime minister.
The military had kept its promise and given power back to
civil society two years after the military coup.
In August 2008, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz conducted
a military coup that ousted President Abdallahi. Abdallahi
had tried to remove Aziz and several other senior officers
from the military, but these responded by taking power and
arresting Abdallahi and Prime Minister Zeidane. Aziz was
also a prominent officer in the coup in 2005. He
characterized himself as interim president and chairman of
the Council of State. A week later, he appointed Moulaye
Ould Mohamed Laghdaf to the post of Prime Minister.
While the outside world had accepted the military coup in
2005, it was more critical this time, and Aziz launched an
offensive to try to legitimize the dictatorship. However,
Morocco initially supported the dictatorship, and later it
also received support from Libya and Senegal. However, the
African Union continued its condemnation, adopted sanctions
against Mauritania in December and continued to regard
Abdallahi as the country's legitimate president.
After Israel went to war in Gaza in December 2008 and
subsequently killed 1,300 civilians, Mauritania suspended
its diplomatic relations with Israel. When Israel
accelerated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from East
Jerusalem in the spring of 2010 to make way for its own
settlers, Mauritania finally broke its diplomatic ties with
the rogue state. The only two Arab countries that remained
in contact were Jordan and Egypt.
In April 2009, Aziz officially resigned from the
presidential post to run for the July 2009 presidential
election - which he "won" with 52.6% of the vote. Both the
AU and most of the opposition boycotted the election.
In line with US activities in West Africa, Mauritania
passed a new anti-terrorism law in July 2010 that gave the
security forces extensive powers. Among other things. in the
fight against al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). A similar law
had been overturned by the Constitutional Court in January
to violate the Constitution. The military carried out a
number of anti-terrorist operations during the year.
Primarily in the border areas against Mali, where several
Malaysians were killed.