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The Speaker of the Mauritanian National Assembly, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, is a haratin (slave descendant)

Posted by African Press International on April 27, 2007

Nouakchott (Mauritania) The Speaker of the Mauritanian National Assembly, Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, is a haratin (slave descendant) born in the mid-40s in the Nema region (Far East, at the border with Mali).

Unsuccessful candidate in last March presidential poll with 9.80 percent, he joined the camp of the current head of state Sidi Ould Sheik Abdellahi in the run-off.

He bagged 4.98 percent against the then president Maaouya Ould Taya in the 2003 presidential election.

He was snatched from his family at tender age by his masters who sent him to the colonial school of Nema where he got his primary education certificate (C.E.P.E) in 1956 and a common entrance admission in 1957.

But he did not stay long at the Xavier Coppolani secondary school of Rosso (Mauritania) as he was definitively expelled in during the 1959/1960 school year.

The haratin leader often said “although I acknowledge my share of responsibility in this expulsion, I remain convinced today that if I had been a “bidhan” (white Moor), that could have been avoided.”

Right after his expulsion, Ould Boulkheir became a volunteer at the Nema Circle secretariat, before taking part in a direct contest for the recruitment of clerk or administrative secretaries at national level.

He passed and was transferred to the Atar Circle (centre-north) in 1960 and then began his slow rise in the administrative hierarchy which will successively enable him hold different positions : district chief (July 1972), prefect (1975), deputy governor (1979) and governor (1981).

Meanwhile, in 1978, he created the clandestine movement ‘El Hor’ for the recovery of the rights of the haratin.

Ould Boulkheir will only be governor for three months before being appointing Rural Development Minister in a junta government following the 12 December 1984 coup which brought to power the former president Moaouya Ould Taya.

For Messaoud the activist, it was the first time that a “haratin asserted his origins and raised them as a standard to get to all these high positions in the country”.

The haratin leader had to suffer the hard test of keeping his ministerial portfolio while continuing to be an active activist against slavery.

Indeed, after the publication of the Negro-African Manifesto (1986), Ould Boulkheir was subjected to heavy pressures aimed at using him against his comrades of struggle. Something he categorically rejected and paid the heavy price of being sacked from the government on 18 March 1988.

Ould Boukheir was always involved in all initiatives to form a liberation political movement. He, hence, created the democratic forces for change (FDUC) and was jailed with the co-founders of this movement from May-June to late July 1991.

Afterwards, he actively participated in the creation of the Union of Democratic forces (UFD), of which he was the secretary general.

However, the “difficult cohabitation with the last-minute opponents” urged me to leave that party”, Ould Boukheir said, hinting at Ahmed Ould Daddah.

Messaoud created then in 1995 the Action for Change (AC) which former President Maaouya Ould Taya arbitrarily disbanded in January 2002.

Though regrouping haratins, negro-Africans and bidhans, the then regime termed the AC a “racist party”.

Ould Boukheir tried once again to resuscitate by creating a party called Convention for Change which the then Interior ministry immediately banned. He resigned himself to integrate the Popular Alliance for progress (APP) of which he is the incumbent leader.

Messaoud Ould Boukheir who is married and father to eight daughters and three sons, embodies moral and intellectual honesty in the eyes if his supporters.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn, source.apa


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