Mauritanian President Says NGOs Incite Racial Hatred And Division Among Citizens

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz at EU headquarters in Brussels on April 3, 2014. By John Thys (AFP/File)

Nouakchott (AFP) - Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has lashed out at human rights organisations that accuse the ethnically split country of abuses, saying they only spread "hate and division".

Aziz told a press conference that their reference to black victims during ethnic clashes in the 1990s "only incites hatred and division between the citizens of this country".

On Saturday -- the 55th anniversary of the country's independence -- several human rights groups in Mauritania denounced the 1990 hangings of 28 black Mauritanians accused of attempting to overthrow the government.

Mauritania is home to people of Arab-Berber descent as well as black Africans.

According to the NGOs, the "28th of November, independence day, is perceived as a day of mourning and not celebration."

The groups also spoke of the black Mauritanian refugees who were deported to Senegal in the early 1990s after a bitter border dispute.

The president also denied that slavery still exists in the country after it was officially banned in 1991 but allegedly lingers in practice, according to NGOs.

Mauritania has seen fierce ethnic divisions between its black population and the lighter skinned Moors, and is regularly accused of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses.

Source: AFP
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