Democratic experience of the soldiers [Archives:2007/1040/Opinion]

April 9 2007

By: Ali Al-Sarari
The soldiers of Mauritania have achieved the peaceful transfer of power in a democratic and successful manner. The vote results were announced a few days ago with the candidate Walad Al-Sheikh Abdullah winning the country's highest political post with a slim margin. The Ruling Military Council declared its acceptance of the vote result before it was announced, as well as its being ready to protect it after it ensured the conditions of free and fair elections. On their part, the Ruling Military Council members cared for playing a neutral role without the use of state's facilities in favor of a particular presidential contender.

The Mauritanian polls constituted the first Arab experience in which the soldiers played a decisive role to achieve the democratic transformation. They were about to be the second experience after that of Sudan when Sowar Al-Dhahab quit power in the 80s of the last century and handed the job to an elected cabinet, however the soldiers returned and implemented a coupe in 1989 and are still grasping power until now.

Today, the Mauritanian soldiers are the only armed force that earns appreciation and respect of the Arab people in different Arab countries. Compared to other Arab armies, the Mauritanian army is the only one that possesses a national democratic victory gifted to it by its people. The other Arab armies seem defeated by the foreign enemy, engaged in internal wars or to function as the main pillars for the totalitarian regimes.

The Mauritanian democratic birth remained uneasy for many years under the ousted president Mawyah Walad Al-Taye'e. Despite the fact that Walad Al-Taye'e committed to conduct the periodic elections and allowed party pluralism, as well as other aspects and forms of the democratic regime, he established a formal democracy that has no meaning. He remained controlling Mauritania with the apparatuses of oppression and claimed legislation, which he had been usually violating while running for president. During his reign, democracy never advanced even a single move forward and it failed to transfer the fates of Mauritanians to their own hand; in other words, to elect their own president. He proposed a package of formal procedures to exercise vote fraud and deceive people, and such an experience made it difficult for the Mauritanians to get rid of the totalitarian regime led by Mawyah Walad Al-Taye'e. Through his fraudulent democracy, Al-Taye'e continued exercising futile process that plagued his country with mercilessness and corruption. He was preparing to bequeath power to his son, who occupied several high-ranking military posts.

But, the Mauritanian armed forces, backed by the security apparatuses, implemented a military coupe against Al-Taye'e and deposed him from power along with his tenure. They then announced the Ruling Military Council under Ali Bin Mohammed Walad Fal, who, since taking the job, announced that the soldiers are ready to hand the power to civilians after a short transitional period. During this period, Mauritania experienced real democratic practices and processes of fair and free elections for the first time in its history.

Over a short time period, the Mauritanian experience has topped the list of Arab democracies, which are called democracies metaphorically but not in real-life situation. Such a successful experience was impossible to happen without the military coupe led by Walad Fal.

Having an investigative glance at the nature of Arab regimes, other than Mauritania's, one finds that the model of the ousted president Walad Al-Taye'e is as many times repeated as the number of Arab countries controlled by the same backward m2inds with the same corrupt tools and the totalitarian means, which are characterized by deception, lies and hypocrisy. If there was a difference between any Arab leader and Walad Al-Taye'e, it would be a difference in the degree and not the type. Similarly, the Arab leaders oppress their people's hopes and aspiration of democratic transformation. They devote totalitarian regimes whose change is confined to bequeathing power from parents after their deaths to their senior sons.

The Mauritanians have eliminated the prevalent faith in the Arab region that the military coupes do not work for managing transformation toward democracy. What can the military coupes achieve, according to the experience of Arab coupes in the 50s, 60s and 70s of the last century, is overthrowing the royal regimes and replacing them with republican ones. Some Arabs believe that the military coupes can not make real changes in the lives of Arab peoples, saying that they fail to establish a democratic political system where people have the be-all and end-all will and determination to elect the regimes.

Over time, the Arab military coupes of the last century have become separated from the announced goals progressed toward royal regimes with republican colors or what is known nowadays the inherited regimes. The most recent Mauritanian experience reconfirmed the role of military coupes and proved that these coupes include democratic political projects that are capable enough to overthrow the formal democracies and replace them with real democratic experiences. Moreover, these coupes are the only well-tested means to end the fraudulent projects and open the doors of hope before Arab peoples.

Any way, the military regimes with the democratic tasks function as the new generation of coupes after the old coupes have run out of the justifications of their establishment and disappointed the Arab regimes. What makes the Mauritanian experience the only possible solution is that the international community doesn't accept regimes of the old military coupes. Also, the Mauritanian experience can be generalized as it has little cost but good content and results.

Ali Al-Sarari is a Yemeni Journalist and a well-known politician. He is the head of the information department at the Yemeni Socialist Party.

Source: Al-Thawri Weekly.