Gradually, the progressive sector of the Mauritanian
People's Party (PPM) led by Moktar Ould Daddah began to
develop the foundations that could create the country's true
independence. In 1965, the country opted out of OCAM (the
Common African and Maghreb Organization), through which
France sought to maintain control of its former colonies.
In 1966, SOMITEX was created, which monopolized the
importation of consumer goods, thereby destroying the
monopoly of the French traders. Arab culture was beginning
to be appreciated and a customs function was set up so that
the country became independent of Senegal. According to
the Arab-Mauritanian Bank was given a monopoly on financial
operations abroad, and for the first time a Mauritanian
currency was issued.
In 1974, the country's iron mines were nationalized and
the country reduced the influence of France in favor of a
rapprochement with the Muslim countries and sought entry
into the Arab League. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Morocco
provided financial assistance to the country.
Due to its interest in annexing part of Western Sahara,
Mauritania entered into an alliance with Morocco in 1975 to
bring the Spanish colony under their control. With
logistical and military support from France, 3,000 soldiers
from Mauritania and 10,000 from Morocco occupied Western
The government of Ould Daddah came to pay a high price
for this adventure. The country was subject to fierce
retaliatory action by the Liberation Front of Frente
Polisario (see Western Sahara ), and was almost occupied by
the troops sent by Morocco to rescue his ally.
The economic crisis intensified and public discontent
manifested in demonstrations and clashes with police. The
Mauritanian people have many ethnic and cultural features in
common with the people of Western Sahara, and the opposition
therefore condemned the Mauritanian intervention against
The crisis broke out fully in 1978, and over the
following 6 years 5 coups took place. An attempt was made to
Arabize the country in its entirety - without regard to the
people of the southern part of the country.
The government eventually had to give up Arabization, at
the same time waived its demands in Western Sahara and in
1979 signed a peace agreement with Frente Polisario. At the
same time and with the support of a number of leftist
officers, the government abolished slavery in the country.
In December 1984, Haidallah was overthrown by a coup by
Maawiya Ould Sid 'Ahmed Taya, Colonel and Chief of the Army
General Staff. He officially recognized the Democratic Arab
Republic of Sahara (Western Sahara) and cleaned up the
underground economy - only 50% of the country's businesses
had registered accounts.
In April 1985, the IMF granted the country a $ 12 million
loan, conditional on the implementation of a structural
adjustment program that included extremely harsh conditions
for a country suffering from continued desertification and a
permanent food deficit of 12 million tonnes annually.
The geography of Mauritania is dominated by vast areas of
desert, a hot and dry tropical climate with sparse rainfall.
The economic and social situation was deteriorating;
agricultural land and pastures in the south were still
curtailed as the desert spread. The increasingly poor
nomadic population was increasingly forced to search for