Aziz vows to keep food prices down
Nouakchott - Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has ordered urgent measures to keep food prices down after neighbouring African administrations were jolted by mass protests, state media said on Friday.
"Given the evolution of prices of certain foodstuffs, the president instructed the government to take the most urgent measures to keep prices down to levels accessible to people throughout the country," read a government statement published by the official Mauritanian News Agency.
Mauritania has experienced soaring prices of basic commodities such as sugar, oil and milk powder, mirroring the situation in two other north African countries, Tunisia and Algeria, which have been rocked by deadly protests.
There have also been signs of a backlash against the Mauritanian government, with several thousand people marching in the capital on Thursday night in a protest led by the Co-ordination of the Democratic Opposition (COD) coalition.
"Nothing works in this country, corruption, mismanagement, over the counter markets and nepotism", said Ahmed Ould Daddah, leader of the main opposition party, citing "unbearable living conditions".
The vice-president of the ruling Union for the Republic (UPR) Mohamed Yahya Ould Horma has accused the opposition of "using the price issue for political bidding and false propaganda."
In nearby Tunisia, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has promised to lower prices of basic commodities such as milk, bread and sugar amid an unprecedented revolt against unemployment and his government which has left 66 dead since mid-December.