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Mauritania: Sanctions

Volume 482: debated on Wednesday 5 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had discussions with the US Administration on the possible imposition of sanctions on Mauritania. (232192)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have not had any discussions with the US Administration on the possible imposition of sanctions on Mauritania following the 6 August coup. Government officials are in regular contact with the US Administration regarding Mauritania.

On 17 October the US Administration announced that they had imposed travel restrictions to the United States on certain members of the Mauritanian military junta and the Government.

The UK condemned the coup on 6 August and called for the release of the President and the restoration of democratic institutions, and we have been working with EU partners to press for the restoration of democracy in Mauritania. On 20 October the EU met with representatives from the Mauritanian regime to discuss procedures under Article 96 of the Cotonou agreement, which provides for appropriate measures when the ‘essential and fundamental elements’ of the agreement (such as democracy) have been infringed. Mauritanian proposals did not meet EU requirements, and they were given one month to provide the EU with proposals for the restoration of the constitutional order which satisfy EU requirements. If the Mauritanians fail to do this within a month the EU will close consultations and appropriate measures, including possible targeted sanctions, will be considered. These measures may cover any aspect of the EU-African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) relationship, but there will be an analysis of their impact, and humanitarian and emergency assistance should not be affected.

The UK hopes that the Mauritanians will produce acceptable proposals within the timeframe given in order to move towards the swift restoration of democracy in Mauritania.

The UK is also working with other international partners to try to secure a return to democracy in Mauritania. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies suspended military activities to be carried out with Mauritania in September, and are reviewing activities on a case by case basis.