Allegations of Corruption within the Association of Mauritanian Ulama

Earlier this month, I wrote about how the Association of Mauritanian Ulama formally asked incumbent President Mohamed Ould Abd al-Aziz to seek a third term. Via reader Daouda Niang, here in Arabic and French is an article that suggests there is financial corruption and nepotism within the Association and, in an least one instance, a payment of 10 million ouguiya (approximately $28,000, in the old ouguiya format) from the presidency to several members of the association around the time of the 2017 constitutional referendum. The allegations of corruption are based on documents that the news outlet Al-Akhbar says it received from sources within the association. Al-Akhbar provides a lengthy summary of the documents here (Arabic).

The documents do not show the senior leadership of the Association directly accepting payments. There is also no suggestion of a direct payment from the presidency to the Association or its members regarding the Association’s recent declaration of support for a possible third term for the president. The documents do suggest that the head of the Association, Shaykh Hamdan Ould al-Tah, and the Minister of Islamic Affairs Ahmed Ould Ehel Daoud received complaints about the corruption and possibly did not act. Furthermore, the leaked documents, or at least Al-Akhbar’s summary of them, do show members and employees of the Association expressing serious concerns about the Association’s reputation among ordinary people. The leaks and the coverage will undoubtedly raise speculation that there is wider corruption within the association, as well as speculation that the Association’s political stances are linked to backroom financial deals.

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