EU/MAURITANIA : EU COULD IMPOSE SANCTIONS "BEFORE CHRISTMAS".
Confronted with the lack of political progress in Mauritania, the EU plans to impose sanctions against the authors of the coup d'etat that took place last August. The French Presidency of the EU and the European Commission confirmed, on 20 November, that the 27-member bloc will start working on restrictive measures, as the ultimatum set by the Europeans for democratic progress has expired. On 20 October, the EU gave the military junta one month to make proposals for the return to constitutional order, under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, which governs relations between the Union and the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) states.
"Given that the junta's proposals have been deemed insufficient by the international community, EU member states will examine, based on the proposals of the European Commission, appropriate measures," said a spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry. The spokesman for Development Commissioner Louis Michel confirmed that the Commission will work on "additional measures," following a meeting with the African Union that will take place on 21 November in Addis Ababa. These sanctions could mirror "measures taken against Zimbabwe, which includes a travel ban and asset freeze against the most influential figures of the regime," indicated a Commission source.
Discussions among experts and member states could take several weeks and lead to a Council decision "before Christmas," according to a Commission source. The EU has already suspended its development aid to Nouakchott following the 6 August coup. The Commission had allocated 156 million in aid for 2008-2013. This aid programme is suspended but humanitarian aid continues to be channelled to the population of Mauritania.