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 Countryaah, 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 Sahara.
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 Western Sahara.
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.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Mauritania demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.
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 cities.